Various Artists

Ska Boogie: Jamaican R&B, The Dawn of Ska

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Before ska there was Jamaican R&B. Sometimes called bluebeat, the music was influenced by both the island's native soca-inspired mento sound and stateside R&B and jazz. Sequel has collected the musical evidence here with 20 sides from the late '50s and early '60s. Featuring the pioneering production work of Prince Buster, Duke Reid, and Clement Dodd, the mix takes in such early Jamaican popular stars as Owen Gray, Laurel Aitken, Eric "Monty" Morris, and Byron Lee. Buster himself delivers a vocal gem ("Open Up Bartender"), as does future reggae producer Derrick Morgan, who is heard on "Shake a Leg" and -- as part of the Jiving Juniors -- "I Wanna Love." For a solid slice of ska prehistory, be sure to check this import out.

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