Various Artists

The Real Jamaica Ska [2001]

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It's not well known that there was some attempt to break ska in the American market in 1964 via record releases and live performances, although it had little effect. In 1964 there were even ska performances sponsored by the Jamaican government at the World's Fair in New York, one of the acts being Jimmy Cliff. The Real Jamaica Ska compilation is an artifact of that era, released in September 1964 by Epic, and, interestingly, recorded in Kingston and co-produced by Curtis Mayfield and Chicago soul producer Carl Davis. While it's not the absolute best assortment of ska to be heard in Jamaica in 1964, it's a decent, pleasing disc, with two tracks by future star Jimmy Cliff as well as cuts by Lord Creator, Winston Samuel, the Techniques, and the Charmers. Perhaps because an American label and U.S. producers were involved, the fidelity is cleaner and clearer than was typical for Jamaican ska releases of the time. Lord Creator's tracks have a somewhat jazzier, poppier lilt to both the vocals and the horns than was common in many ska recordings of the mid-'60s, and it actually makes for a refreshing change of pace. This was first reissued on CD by Epic/Legacy in 1993, and then again by Epic/Legacy in 2001 with a different song sequence and two added tracks by Bob Marley & the Wailers that were not related to the original release, but were recorded around the same time: "Simmer Down" and "I Am Going Home."

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