The Skatalites

The Guns of Navarone

Composed by Dimitri Tiomkin

Song Review by

On a technical level, this single was not the band's best, the solos aren't that top-notch either, but none of that matters, for it's the sheer exuberance of this number that made it the best selling ska single in history.

"Guns of Navarone" of course was the theme song to the 1961 flick of the same name, a WWII espionage flick that portrayed soldiers' courage and sacrifice in the face of great odds. Jamaicans knew all about both courage and sacrifice, but they had more to offer, an overwhelming optimism and self-belief that still exuded three years after independence, and that feeling rings through on every note of this hit.

The Skatalites' express it through their of music, a love of sound that permeates Jamaica, and here the band let loose

their joy. The brass band together to send that emotion skyward, a jubilant harmonic horn chorus that punctures the clouds.

Underneath, the rhythm section of Lloyd Knibbs and Lloyd Brevett shatter the ether with sharp rim shots and thumping bass. And overhead, the soloists burst forth, led by Roland Alphonso, who wrote this exuberant number, pushing each other out of the way in their desire to sound out their own jubilation.

The finishing touch was Lee Perry's, feeding the fire with his shouts, yelps, yips and chiggas, driving the song to distraction. A masterpiece of mood and genre, and one that almost single-handedly defines ska in most people's minds. Over a decade later The Specials would make it their own, and add even more punch to the number, but nothing could touch the unquenchable delight of the original.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Club Ska '67 1980
Various Artists
Mango 2:30
Stretching Out 1987 Virtual Label / ROIR
Original Club Ska: Best of Studio One 1991
Various Artists
Heartbeat Select 3:21
Bonanza Ska 1992
Various Artists
Trojan 2:31
The Story of Jamaican Music: Tougher Than Tough 1993
Various Artists
Mango 2:28
Hi-Bop Ska 1994 Shanachie Records 6:23
Caribbean Beat Compilation, Vol. 2 1996
Various Artists
Intuition 6:45
Trojan Singles Collection, Vol. 2 1996
Various Artists
Trojan 2:32
Ska [Fontana] 1996
Various Artists
Trojan / Rialto / Sanctuary 2:31
SKAndalous: I've Gotcha Covered 1996
Various Artists
Shanachie Records 6:24
R.O.R.X.: 10th Annual Reggae on the Rocks 1997
Various Artists
What Are Records? 6:08
This Is Ska!: 16 Original Ska Classics 1997
Various Artists
Music Club Records 2:32
The Trojan Story, Vol. 1 1997
Various Artists
Trojan 2:32
Guns of Navarone/Ride Your Donkey 1997
Various Artists
Trojan 2:33
Island 40, Vol. 2: 1964-1969 -- Rhythm and Blues Beat 1997
Various Artists
Island 2:27
No Image 1997
Various Artists
What Are Records? 6:07
Old School Ska: An Anthology 1998
Various Artists
Recall (UK)
The Best Ska Album in the World Ever 1998
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:30
Legends, Vol. 2: The History of Ska 1998
Various Artists
Fuel 2000 / Varese 2:28
Trojan Box Set: Ska 1999
Various Artists
Sanctuary / Trojan 2:29
It's Ska Time: 20 Original Ska Classics 1999
Various Artists
Charly Records 2:32
Ultimate Ska Classics [Cult] 1999
Various Artists
Cleopatra 2:30
In the Mood for Ska 2000
Various Artists
Harry May 9:09
Reggae Chartbusters, Vol. 2 [Metro] 2000
Various Artists
Metro 2:31
2nd International Ska Festival 2000
Various Artists
Tralla 7:45
Guns of Navarone: The Best of the Skatalites 2001 Interscope 2:30
Trojan Box Set: A Jamaican Story 2001
Various Artists
Trojan 2:30
Best of Ska [Disky] 2002
Various Artists
Disky 2:31
Trojan Sampler 2002 2002
Various Artists
Trojan
Trojan Box Set: U.K. Hits 2002
Various Artists
Trojan / Sanctuary 2:30
Ska Splash 2002 Pressure Drop
Commercial Break: Songs from TV Adverts 2002
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd.
From Paris with Love 2002 World Village 5:10
1967: The Soundtrack 2003
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd. 2:31
Trojan Originals 2003
Various Artists
Trojan / Sanctuary 2:28
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: Ska 2003
Various Artists
Universal International 2:25
Young, Gifted and Black 2003
Various Artists
Trojan 2:29
Studio One Story 2003
Various Artists
Soul Jazz 2:29
Best of the 60's Mod [Castle] 2004
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd. 2:31
This Is Crucial Reggae: Ska 2004
Various Artists
Sanctuary 2:30
In the Mood for Ska: The Moonska Years 2004 Recall (UK) / Snapper 9:09
Ska: A.K.A. 2005
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:30
Reggae Steady Ska 2005
Various Artists
Disky
In Orbit, Vol. 1 2006 P-Vine Records 6:25
Super Sixties Collection 2006
Various Artists
Metro
Super Reggae Hits Box 2006
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Roots Party 2006 XIII Bis Recordings
Surf & Drive Reggae 2006
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
100 Hits: Reggae 2006
Various Artists
DMG 100 2:30
Live at Lokerse Feesten: 1997 & 2002 2008 Charly Records
Beginners Guide to Ska 2009
Various Artists
Nascente 2:30
History of Ska, Rocksteady and Reggae United Sounds 7:47
Mod Anthems
Various Artists
Rhino 2:29
Ska Explosion [Rhino]
Various Artists
Rhino 2:27
Skatalites: Independence Ska and the Far East Sound: Original Ska Sounds from the Skatalites 1963-65 Soul Jazz
The Suggs Selection
Various Artists
Universal Music TV 2:29
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