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1950s
artists:
  Lord Fly   Count Lasher    Lord Tanamo    Count Sticky  Lord Messam 
 Count Owen    Lord Flea    Lord Lebby    Harold Richardson & The Ticklers  
  Arthur Knibbs    Chin's Calypso Sextet, A. Bedasse, E. F. Williams & Ivan Chin  
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artists:
 The Jolly Boys    Stanley Beckford    The Hiltonaires   Lord Antics 
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More Golden Age Single Scans

 

Page last revised: 6/7/14

 

For most of the 1950s, 10" 78 RPM singles were the norm. But by the end of this decade,  7" 45 RPM singles were also produced. A few four song 7" EPs were also released during this era.

Jump
to:

   Assorted singles      Marie Bryant      From the collection of Robert Schoenfeld     
 
Baba Motta      Ernest Ranglin      Hubert Porter      From the collection of Allen Kaatz  
  
From the collection of Richard Noblett      Louise Lamb      From the collection of Ulrich Stark  
  
Laurel Aitken      EPs and Interesting Sleeves      Also see...  


Assorted Scans of Singles From Mento's Golden Age

The very first mento singles were  those released by the MRS label by Lord Fly, as seen on the Lord Fly page. Many other artists would follow on this and other labels. A selection is below.

To start things off, here's an urban mento single by Mapletoft Poulle and His Orchestra:

 
"Welcome Princess Margaret"
       backed with:
"Jamaica Reach 300".

This single on the uncommon Synco label, a Jamaican label not be confused with the earlier US label of the same name. 

The title of each track is self explanatory.  "Welcome Princess Margaret" is a subject also covered on one side of The Silver Seas single seen immediately below. "Jamaica Reach 300" is about Jamaica's 1955 tricentennial of British rule, that perhaps was the occasion of Princess Margaret visit. The label lists the musicians, many of which also appear on Mapletoft's LP, "Jamaica Mento", as seen on the "More Middle Period Album scans" page. The below as more on Synco.

 

Credits from the label with additional comments in brackets:

M. Poulle (piano)
O. Wilkins (t) [trumpet or trombone?]
H. Nelson (b)  [bass]
F. Galbraith (tumba) [a conga drum?]
P. Davidson (bongos)
K. Davidson (maracas)
Peter Hudson (vocal and sax)
Lord Bogue (music and lyrics)

  Another Mapletoft Poulle  single, one I have not heard, on MRS:

"Take Me Back To Jamaica"
backed with:    "Federation".

The label credits Peter Hudson on vocals and Charles Vendryes and E. F. Williams as composers.

On the Rhythm label, another single by Mapletoft Poulle and His Orchestra, but this time its pure R&B rather then mento:

  "Mack The Knife"   b/w:
"Jiddy Up".

The label credits Peter Hudson and Lloyd Mason as vocalists on the former, while Peter Hudson and The Discers are credited on the latter. Both sides credit Peter Hudson for his alto sax.

  Here's a very interesting single on MRS by The Silver Seas Calypso Band : 

Highlights From The Silver Seas Floor Show 
  b/w:
Caribbean Curtsy (Courtesy)

"Highlights From The Silver Seas Floor Show" gives us a better idea of the live presentation of this band in the mid 1950s at the Ocho Rios hotel of the same name. This apparently included dancers and theatrics to convey a trip to a Jamaican market set to a collection of Jamaican folk songs as narrated by MC Stuart Sharp.

"Hill and Gully Ride" includes the narration, And here comes the Little Marsh, dancing with bamboozles on his head. A brief Eddie Brown acoustic guitar solo segues into "Rukumbine", which includes the narration, And lookie, here comes that ham himself, Bertie Green and the Silver Seas Goat!. This brings us into "Miss A Ram Goat", which is followed by the narration, Of course ladies and gentlemen, no market scene would be complete without the market woman herself, smoking her chalk pipe and riding her donkey, its Mama Bell. This bring us into "John Tom" follow by the narration, Well ladies and gentlemen the greatest of all market songs, the Jamaican song, Carry My Ackees  to the Linstead Market.

"Caribbean Curtsy (Courtesy)", an original composition, also includes narration. It is Saturday, February the 19th, 1955. A memorable day for Jamaica. Her royal highness, the beautiful Princess Margaret of England has arrived at this Caribbean paradise. At Kings House, the famed Silver Seas Calypso are about to sing a new song dedicated to our royal visitor. Its title, 'Caribbean Courtesy' words by Sally Mitchener[?], original melody by Eddie Brown. Presented now by the Silver Seas Calypso.

Musically, the sound on both sides is recognizably Silver Seas  with prominent acoustic guitar drum and claves. I am not sure who the lead vocalist is.



 

Two familiar songs by Lord Power and His Calypso Quartet on a MRS 78 RPM single: "Miss Goosey" backed with "Solas Market", both titles with the legend "(Jamaica Mento)" printed underneath. A good Lord Power single, featuring his typical rowdy delivery and rough rural instrumentation.    



 

More rough rural mento from Lord Power, this time with a band billed as The Power Calypsonians:

I'm Sorry For Myself        b/w:
Go Gal Go

The label gives writing credit to Leonard Wms, perhaps revealing Power's real name.

A few golden age singles on had different artists on either side. Here's one, released on the Kalypso label:

  "Medley: Woman Sweeter Than Man; One Bright Easter Morn; Dog War In Matthews Lane"
by Lord Power 

backed with

"Ackee and Codfish" by Lord Composer.

Both tracks are rural and sound like the same backing musicians were employed. (The fact that the backing group on both sides is The Jamaican Calypsonians does not necessarily guarantee this. This is something of a generic name used by more than one backing band.)

Power's medley sandwiches two well known songs around a lesser known one.

Composer's song about a beloved dish credits Omri Mundle as the song's author, perhaps revealing Composer's real name. As the label below shows, this 78 was later re-released as a 45 RPM single.

Before we leave Lord Power for now (there are more of his singles throughout this page), to the right is a poster advertising an unknown show featuring Power, courtesy of Jeremy Collingwood of the UK.

Courtesy of Matthias Münchow of Germany, on MRS, a single by Lord Melody, with Sonny Bradshaw and His Quintet: "The Whistler"  backed with  "Boy Days".

 
 

Although Bradshaw is renowned for his 6 decades of Jamaican jazz, this is the only mento disc I've seen with his name on it (though with vocals from calypsoian Lord Melody of Trinidad, it may be more of a calypso than a mento).  It includes trumpet solos by Bradshaw.
 

On a later 45 RPM
MRS
re-release,
here is both sides
of the same
Sonny Bradshaw
single.

 

Lord Melody is famous for his hits, "Booboo Man" (aka: "Mama Look a Boo Boo") and "Shame And Scandal", both which worked their way into the mento repertoire.

Mike Spencer of Canterbury, England, provides the following info on this record:

As seen in the Daily Gleaner clips below, Melody was touring Jamaica in 1957, and recorded the tracks whilst there (presumably to promote these gigs). Both sides were played on the radio on different weeks in August, the radio show being sponsored by Mottas. It seems that the performances were sponsored by the Jamaican branch of Cook Records, and that Sonny Bradshaw backed Melody, just as on the record. Melody shared the bill with several different Trinidadian calypsonians.

One of the shows, as seen in the clipping below, promotes "A Federated Calypso Clash" with Melody and Lord Pretender representing Trinidad versus Count Lasher ("Jamaica's number 1 calypsonian") and Lord Messam (the "demon of Montego Bay") representing Jamaica.

I spoke to soon. In mid-2010, I found another mento record bearing Sonny Bradshaw's name.

  On the Savoy Record Shop Calypsodisc label, featuring Lord Davey on vocals, is The Sonny Bradshaw Calypso Quintet with:

"Advice To Men"
    backed with
"The Churchill Calypso"

The former is different from the Harold Richardson song of the same name. The latter celebrates Winston Churchill's visit to Jamaica in January of 1953. Both consist of jazzy piano (both who solo) and Bradshaw's trumpet along with Jamaican hand drum.

In mid-2013, Richard Noblett of London provided scans of another Sonny Bradshaw single.


On the MRS label, featuring Zack Matalon on vocals, is the Sonny Bradshaw Quintet with

"Cordelia Brown"
    backed with
"Rock Mister Piper"

 

The A-side is an old folk/mento standard. The B-side was written by the singer. The clipping and comments below come are also courtesy of Richard:

Zack Matalon was born in Manchester England on 9 October 1928 and moved to Jamaica with his parents who had a store on Harbour Street.  He left Jamaica in 1947 and appeared as a singer in the US and UK. He had a long career, subsequently appearing in TV, Cinema and Theatre, and often directed plays. 

The recording dates from 57/58 on one of his trips to Jamaica. I think is the last issue on the
MRS main series. The band was  Baba Motta, piano, Sonny Bradshaw, bass, Lennie Hibbert, vibes, Ruper Anderson, drums, and Keith Stoddart, guitar

"Cordelia Brown" combines rural and urban mento sounds with what was then called "popular vocal" night-club singing. "Rock Mister Piper" is an awkward rock and roll song about a rockin' pied piper getting rid of rats (!).

The classic MRS single by Lord Composer and His Silver Seas Hotel Orchestra, featuring two 2-song medleys: "Gal A Gully; Matilda" backed with "Hill & Gully Ride; Mandeville Road". Below are both sides of the original 78 RPM single, followed by one side of the later 45 RPM single re-release. For more on this single and the artist and to hear sound clips, visit the "More Artists and Favorite Songs Clips" page.


 



Courtesy of Paul Steward of London, scans of a famous Lord Power single on the Trojan label (and, some sources claim, the first ever release on this label and the first record produced by Duke Reid, who named his new label and his sound system after his nickname, "The Trojan".):

  Penny Reel   b/w:   Chambolina

For more on the A-side, and to hear a sample, see the Other Artists and Favorite Song Clips page. Both tracks are available on the CD compilations "Jamaica Mento - Authentic Recording" and "Dip and Fall Back".

 

Here is the same
78 RPM single,
but released on
the Kalypso label
along with two editions
of its release as a
45 RPM single
 

On MRS, a Clyde Hoyte single. Clyde had a singing style that was reminiscent of the mento-jazz singers of the 1920s and 1930s, Sam Manning and Lionel Belasco.  Unlike the dance band style release seen below, Clyde is not backed by the George Moxey Quartet and different sounds are produced on each side of this single by Clyde Hoyte and His Band. Starting with the B-side,
  "The River Ben Come Down" is a fine banjo lead rural mento rendition of this old Jamaican folk song.

"Plenty Road Lead To Heaven" is a spiritual written by Hoyte. The arrangement consists of multipart vocals, strummed acoustic guitar,

maracas and hand claps. This is the only gospel entry I've heard on a 1950s mento label. Could this be the first ever Jamaican gospel record?

Speaking of Clyde Hoyte, he acts and performs mento in the 1956 movie called Manfish. Filmed in Jamaica, it features other Jamaicans in the cast such as Vere Johns. It can be seen in its entirety on Youtube, with mento performances at 0:8:21, 0:20:00 and 0:25:00. Thanks to Generoso Fierro of Boston in the US, for alerting me to this. Here are images from the movie:

        

Here is an extremely curious specimen. Its a MRS 78 RPM single, but it substitutes a less familiar "Made By" variation of the label.

Handwritten on one side is "5 Jan, 1952", and the other is three signatures. These are, to the best of my ability, G. Graham, H. Henriques, and Walli De Sauza. Perhaps these are the names of some of the musicians. Both sides have "#1" written in the Part field. No song title information appears.

 

There is no matrix number on the run out groove to provide any clues.

Both songs are instrumental. The dated side has lead clarinet, piano and maracas. The melody played by the clarinet is unfamiliar, but after a brief jazzy piano break, the medley changes to that of "Belly Lick", as recorded by Cecil Knott and his Joybell Orchestra with Arthur Knibbs on vocals. The pianist here sounds like he could be the same as from Joybells, but that group featured piano and banjo as lead instruments, and never clarinet. The signed side is cocktail jazz with piano, a drum kit, stand up bass, and lead clarinet!

So what exactly is this record? A rehearsal or jam session? A demo? The worlds first dub plate? A private recording? As is often the case, the toughest mento questions can be readily answered  by Dan Neely:

This was a private recording. As you probably know, Motta had a little studio at Hanover St. hat you might not know is that his studio provided a service whereby people could go to pay to make a record. It wasn't cheap, but relatively affordable for middle class customers. The process behind it was just like when Elvis went to Sun Studios to have his first record made for his mom.

The interesting part for me are the names on the disc. Henriques and DeSouza were (still are and have been for a long, long time) two VERY prominent names in Kingston's Jewish community. Further, the Grahams were a prominent family that owned a chain of Jamaican movie theaters (their theaters, I believe, introduced Cinemascope to the country). Many Kingstonians would characterize these three names as being paradigmatically "uptown." I don't know exactly who these people are, but it is not surprising to find the names here together; they would all have been part of Jamaica's high society and it is very likely that the kids of these families would have made music as a recreational activity."

The autographed side definitely has that "Belly Lick" figure in it, but I wouldn't consider Knibb's recording a source because that didn't come out until after this record was made (not like Belly Lick wasn't a common enough tune before Knibbs's group recorded it for the uptown crowd to know it).

I think the other side is a cover of Sammy Kaye's version of "Harbor Lights" (a BIG hit tune in the early 1950s that was available in Jamaica). Note the similarity between the pedal-steel guitar in Kaye's version and the slide acoustic in this one. I think we have a match.

On the Ritmo label, a 78 RPM single by Jamaica Boy and his Kingston Calypso Orchestra:
"Man Smart, Woman Smarter" backed with "Mary Ann / Brown Skin Gal". These tracks appeared in on compilation LPs released by Ritmo and Monogram as well on both of the Valmark CDs, which can be inexpensively purchased today.

  

"Man Smart, Woman Smarter" was sometimes released as "Not Me". "Brown Skin Gal" was sometimes released as "Papa's Going Away".

These tracks feature a simple acoustic guitar-based arrangement (in spite of being billed to an orchestra) and a careful, competent vocal performance.

Though there is nothing wrong with these tracks, there were innumerable mento recordings that are more exciting and more deserving of this much attention. And in spite of all this re-releasing, the moniker Jamaica Boy is unknown outside of this record. It is possible that these song were originally recorded under a different name. One side of this single, re-released as a 45, can be seen to the right.



The same single but this time on a less familiar label. The Tico label bears the legend, El Rey Del Mambo, or "King of the Mamabo". So this NYC-based label that typically does not release Jamaican music

The mystery is solved with the discovery of this original release on the Kalypso label.

"Mary Ann; Brown Skin Gal" backed with "Not Me" turns out to be by the Denzil Laing Trio.

Here are the labels from more two Kalypso singles by Denzil Laing and The Wigglers, courtesy of Matthias Münchow of Germany. The first three tracks can be heard today on the inexpensive Valmark CDs. These are pleasing folksy mento tracks, though a bit tame. "Mermaid" is a jazzier track. I have not heard "Who To Call Your Friend". Interestingly, all the specimens I have seen of these singles and the Kalypso single above are labeled "Complimentary".

 

 

"Day Oh; Linstead Market"

       backed with

"Mermaid"


     "Limbo"

       backed with

"Who To Call Your Friend"

Dan Neely was kind enough to supply this site with some information about Denzil Laing and The Wrigglers:

Everything by the Wrigglers is led by Denzil Laing. Laing, who made a bunch of important recordings with Larry McDonald (conga player for Carlos Malcolm, among other things) in the late 60s and early 70s. Denzil's son Tony has a radio show in Power 106 in JA and is leading the intellectual property fight for musicians in Jamaica.

In addition to these 1950s singles, they also recorded at least two middle period hotel LPs and one middle period 45 RPM single.

  Courtesy of Xavier Guillamon of Barcelona, Spain ((http://soundsystemfm.reggae-blog.net) is label variation of the record above with different numbering and artist credit. More of Xavier's scans are seen later in this page.

   The Ken Khouri produced 45 on the Kalypso label by Lord Laro:

"Referendum Calypso"  b/w:
"Wrong Impressions of A Soldier"

Thanks to Steve Brentford for these scans.

   On MRS featuring the vocals of Robin Plunkett, The Shaw Park Calypso Band:

"Take Her to Jamaica"   b/w:
"Shaw Park Blues"

For more info on the B-side, lyrics and to hear a clip, visit the "Other Artists and Songs Clips" page.

Here is the  UK release of "Take Her to Jamaica" on the London label.

It comes from the LP here.

The single's flip-side can be seen here.

 

On MRS, a single by Monty Reynolds and The Shaw Park Calypso Band:

  "Pen Pal"   b/w:
"Me Dog Can't Bark"

Both sides of this single were collected on the 1950s MRS LP "Authentic Jamaican Calypsos, Volume 5".  "Me Dog Can't Bark" can be heard today as part of the CD compilation "Mento Madness".

This is rural mento, but acoustic guitar, rather than banjo is featured. Though he is not credited, the guitar player sounds like Eddie Brown. Both songs were written by R. Thompson, a name I've seen on other labels, but I am not otherwise familiar with.

Here are three singles on the MRS label, by Reynolds Calypso Clippers, Boysie Grant on vocals and Eddie Brown on tenor banjo.

    These are great recordings, with fine vocals and instrumentation featuring prominent banjo and hand drum. Five of these sides comprise most of the 8 song 10" LP, "Authentic Jamaican Calypsos" released on London Records.

First is a pair of market songs:

"Solus Market"                b/w:
"Linstead Market"

On 78 and on 45.

Second is:

"Noisy Spring"                 b/w:
"The Naughty Little Flea"

"The Naughty Little Flea" can be heard on the 2006 CD compilation, "Take Me To Jamaica". "Solas Market" can be heard on the 2004 CD compilation "Mento Madness".

 

Also above is a label from the 45 RPM re-release of "Noisy Spring", again on MRS. For more on "Noisy Spring" and to hear a clip, visit the More Artists and Favorite Song Clips page.

In addition to the London LP, both sides of this single appeared on two different MRS LPs: "Authentic Jamaican Calypsos, vol. 3" and "Calypso Date", respectively.

  Third is a pair of medleys:

"Sweety Charlie; Matty Rag;
  Nobody's Business"         

       b/w:

"Come We Go Down To Unity;
  Old Lady Oh; Linstead Market"

Both labels bear the legend "Jamaican Mento-Calypsos". Both tracks can be heard on the 2004 CD compilation "Mento Madness". A song from each side influenced later Jamaican music giants. "Nobody's Business" was recorded by Peter Tosh. "Old Lady Oh" was recorded as "Firesticks" by Prince Buster.

  Lord Daniels' single on Kalypso:

"Small Island Girl"   b/w:
"Matilda"

Rural mento featuring  banjo and harmonica. The only known single by this artist. 

 
On the MRS label, the only two sides I know of by Joseph Clemedore, otherwise know as Cobra Man:

"My Brother Calamity"     b/w
"Maintenance".

MRS also included "Maintenance" was included on the LP "MRS - Authentic Jamaican Calypsos Volume 3". Count Lasher like this song well enough to cover it reggae style some twenty years later. To my ears, this track seems more calypso than mento. Perhaps its the backing by the otherwise unknown "Ganny Gabbison and his Calypso Band". Or does the legend that appears after the song title on the label give a clue. It reads "Calypso", while the flip side has no such legend.

"My Brother Calamity" shares some of the melody with "Maintenance". But this time the backing band is the more familiar in name and sound "George Moxey and His Calypso Quintet" and jazzy piano and percussion flow.

  On the Kalypso label, backed by the only two mento sides I know of by Mighty Dictator with The Jamaican Calypsonians:

"Chinese Cricket Match"     b/w
"Keep The Home Fires Burning".

Mighty Dictator was a Trinidadian calypsonian of some note. Apparently, at the end of his career, he recorded this single in Jamaica. In fact, the b-side is about leaving Trinidad for Jamaica. The music is piano, clarinet, bass and maracas from a Jamaican sounding band.

Below is another example of the Kalypso label as a platform for Trinidadian sounds. This time it's calypsonian Duke of Iron. His band is billed as His Trinidad Troubadours, suggesting that Khouri produced a visiting troupe rather than licensed an existing record. The sound is more Trini than JA.

  "Sally Waters"
(listed as a calypso)
    b/w
"Meringue Jenny"
(listed as a calypso meringue )

The former is not the similarly named Jamaican ring song.

Marie Bryant

US born jazz singer Marie Bryant had a recording and performance career that spanned from at least from the 1930s into the 1950s. At one point, she was a featured vocalist for The Duke Ellington Orchestra. In the 1950s, she recorded a series of sides of well known Jamaican folk/mento songs, though the renditions are more jazz-calypso than mento. These were popular in Jamaica, as they were released by Ken Khouriias 78s, and later 45s, on theas 78s, and later 45s, on the Kalypsoolabel, helping to keep these songs alive in the repertoires of Jamaican mento and reggae bands. These records were also released on American and British labels.label, helping to keep these songs alive in the repertoires of Jamaican mento and reggae bands. These records were also released on American and British labels.label, helping to keep these songs alive in the repertoires of Jamaican mento and reggae bands. These records were also released on American and British labels.

(Above:
 from a 1952
 non-calypso
album jacket)

 

 

(Above: circa 1941)

 

"Little Boy" was covered by The Blue Glaze Mento Band, reggae singer Nora Dean, reggae DJ Dillinger, and Rita Marley in her mento guise of Girl Wonder, amongst others. Its flip side, "Don't Touch My Nylon" is less remembered. Scans are again courtesy of Matthias Münchow.

  Here is the same single, which was popular enough to be released out of NYC on the Monogram label and out of England on the Lyragon label. Notice how the song gains an alternate name. Also, the writing credit is given to the mysterious "R. Henderson". 

Thanks to a correspondence with Rachel Rankin and her research on the origins of Caribbean folk songs, we now know who R. Henderson is and more about this song. 

Russell Henderson is a Trinidadian pianist who emigrated to London in 1951. He played piano and double bass on many jazz and calypso recordings during the 1950 and 60s (including some of Kitchener's) and ran Britain's first steel band (featuring fellow Trinidadian and ex-TASPO Stirling Betancourt) for many many years.

The "give me what you gave daddy last night" joke was known in Trinidad and he rewrote it to make it into a proper song,

Marie's "Little Boy" made its CD debut in 2006 on the CD compilation "Dip and Fall Back".

Here is a 45 RPM Monogram re-release on red vinyl of:

"Mommy Out De Light"    b/w
"Don't You Touch Me Tomato"

   

 

Here is a Monogram EP with the same two songs comprising side 1. Side 2 has a song each from two other Caribbean artists.

  

On London's Calypso imprint, a 78 another single by Marie Bryant: "Noisy Spring" backed with "Mary's Lamb". 

"Noisy Spring", like "Tomato" below were both Jamaican in origin, so the influence between Marie Bryant  and mento was a two way street.

Courtesy of Matt Dinsmore of San Francisco, left is another Marie Bryant' re-release on a Kalypso 45: "Tomato", which was backed by "Little Boy". To the right is a 78 RPM release on Lyragon. The label also credits the Mike McKenzie Quintet, featuring mento musician Bertie King on alto sax.

 

Here is the same single on on red wax, released the US based label Monorgam.

Both "Little Boy/Out De Lite" and Tomato by Marie Bryant can be heard on the 2006 CD compilation "Dip and Fall Back".

Many of the tracks described here were complied on Marie Bryant's LP, "Don't Touch Me Nylons" as seen on the More Golden Age Albums scans page, as well as on an EP, "Calypsos Too Hot To Handle", as seen below.

From Robert Schoenfeld's Collection

Courtesy of Robert Schoenfeld of Nighthawk Records and Roots Natty Roots fame, is this great collection of rare label scans. (Four more can be seen on the Lord Lebby page, two more can be seen on the Lord Flea page, two on the Count Lasher page, and one on the Chins page.)
On Topaz, a Tower Islanders single voiced by Lord Davey:

Rum and Coconut  Water    b/w:
Funny Names of Places In Jamaica

This single was collected in a Tower Islanders album, as seen on the More Golden Age Album Scans page.





On Melodisc, helpfully labeled "Mento", a single by Tony Johnson:

Swine Lane Gal  b/w:  Iron Bar

The same songs earlier appeared on a Lord Fly single. More Tony Johnson discs can be seen below.





On the Hi-Lite, label a single by The Trenton Spence Quartet, vocals by Lord Power:

"Strip Tease" b/w: "Lets Do It"

Saxophone and Lord Power's vocals dominate the sound. Both sides can be heard on the CD compilation "Dip and Fall Back".

Baba Motta
Pianist, band leader and sometimes lead singer Baba Motta recorded a variety of jazzy golden age singles, some of which are seen below. (Though he recorded for him, Baba Motta is not related to Stanley Motta, who started the MRS label.) Two other Baba Motta singles are located elsewhere on this page, here and here. Some of these recordings were also collected on albums, as seen on the "More Golden Age Album scans" page. He also recorded the 1960s LP, "The Myrtle Bank" and at least one single from that era. Two additional Baba Motta LPs are described on the "Mento and Jazz" page.
  A single by singer Ben Bowers with Baba Motta & his Orchestra on an unusual label: Souvenir of Montego Bay:

 Brown Skin Gal    b/w:
 Rum and Coconut Water. 

These may be the same recordings as on the MRS LP, MOTL101.

Here's another rendition of Ben Bowers  performing
"Rum and Coconut Water", this time with backed with his Royal Jamaicans.

It's on the French Parlophone label.

 Its b-side is "Country Boy".

 

Here, on MRS, is Baba Motta and his band, again fronted by singer Ben Bowers performing Louis Jordan's
"Push Ka Pee Shee Pie".

 Its b-side is "Tie Tongue Mopsie".

 

  From 2 different discs, on MRS, is another single by Baba Motta. This time Baba handles the vocals and is backed by The Jamaicans:

"She 'Pon Top"     b/w:    "Susie"

The saucy "She Pon Top" was a hit for this popular dance band act.

Authorship of both songs is credited to the otherwise unknown J. E. Wilson.

Another MRS single by Baba Motta. Young Kitchner is the vocalist this time around. The band
is billed as  Baba Motta and His Orchestra. Young Kitchner took his name from the
internationally popular Trinidadian calypsonian Lord Kitchner.

  "Reincarnation (Bed Bug)"    b/w:   "Spelling". 

"Reincarnation" (with writing credit given to Leonard Josephs) appears on the MRS LP, Authentic Jamaican Calypsos vol.4. Authorship of both sides goes to Leonard Josephs.


 

With Baba back on lead vocals, "Jamaica Talk"    b/w:  
"Calypso Hullabaloo". 

"Calypso Hullabaloo" acknowledges the backlash against bawdy mento songs, specifically mentioning two Chins Calypso Sextet songs: "Night Food" & "Night Food Recipe".

Authorship of both songs is credited to the otherwise unknown Ruby Thompson

Courtesy of Dave Williams, from Uxbridge in west London, England, below are two more Baba Motta singles, this time performing with the St. Jago Dons on the Calypsotime label. To the left is a variant pressing on Calypsodisc.

 

 
"Miss Goosie And Mr. Gander"
     b/w:  
"So She Go". 

The former is a remake of Motta's hit "Miss Goosie".

 


 

"Tenderly"
    b/w:  
"Breadfruit". 


Featuring Ernest Ranglin
You may have noticed that, rare for 1950s mento records, musician credits are included on the above 4 labels. And you may have further noticed that "Ernie Ranglin" is credited as the guitarist on the first two sides. Ernest Ranglin is known to be a major force in ska, reggae and jazz. Here is Proof positive that he also contributed to the sound of the urban mento style.

Is there anyone who has contributed longer or more diversely to Jamaican music than virtuoso guitarist and consummate musician Ernest Ranglin? Born in Manchester, Jamaica in 1932, this self taught guitarist began playing for Jamaica's jazz bands in 1948 (in groups such as The Val Bennett Orchestra and, later, The Baba Motta Band). By the early 1950s, he was a member of Jamaica's top Jazz band, the Eric Deans Orchestra. By the middle and late 1950s, Ernest had participated in recordings of dance band mento and Jamaican R&B. By 1958, he impressed a young Chris Blackwell sufficiently to be featured on an LP that was the first ever release on the Island label. He participated in the creation of ska, recording for Coxsone Dodd, and arranged the first Jamaican cross-over hit, "My Boy Lollipop", by Millie Small.  Ernest also arranged and played on many of (Bob Marley and) The Wailers earliest hits, gracing several with memorable solos. He did innumerable reggae sessions, including The Melodians hit, "Rivers of Babylon" (as heard in the film "The Harder They Come"), toured with Jimmy Cliff, and scored a reggae hit of his own, the instrumental classic "Surfin'" (a.k.a. "Surfacing"). He recorded a series of LPs from the mid-1960s into the new millennium, and in the process, helped create the new genre of "Jamaican Jazz", a fusion that was equal parts reggae and jazz. To the delight of his fans, Ernest still tours, and occasionally will still touch on jazz-mento live. This photo comes from a performance by The Monty Alexander Trio and special guest Ernest Ranglin,  June 25, 2004 in NYC. You should have been there!


Here is another single by Baba Motta and the Saint Jago Dons, featuring a different lineup:

"What A T'ing 'Pon Lucy"
    b/w
"Saw When"



Baba Motta - piano
Len Pottinger - bass
Cooty - maracas
Ken Williams - drums
D. Pinch - guitar
H. McNair tenor [sax]
Sir Alfred - vocals
J. E. Wilson - lyrics

Hubert Porter

Hubert Porter was perhaps the top singer urban mento. His sound was invariably smooth as silk, making him more a part of Jamaica's jazz sound that pert of the reggae continuum. Though his sound was consistent, he recorded for a number of labels.

First are two singles on MRS  by singer Hubert Porter as backed by George Moxey and His Calypso Quintet: This is dance-band mento, featuring fine vocal, jazzy arrangements with prominent clarinet and piano. Lyrics by the great E. F. Williams.

 

  "Women's Bigger Brain"   b/w
"Advice To Women"

Both sides re written by E. F. Williams, who had previously dispensed "Advice To Men" on a Harold Richardson single.

  Sporting a lot of ink (and, sorry, no larger image available) is:
"Dry Weather House".

Courtesy of Jerry Kerns is the flipside:
"Monkey Talk".


These popular songs appeared on several MRS LPs and can be purchased today on the CD compilation "Mento Madness". A clip from "Dry Weather House" can be heard on the "More Artists and Favorite Songs Clips" page.

  A 45 RPM single on the US Ritmo label and perhaps from the 1960s rather than the 1950s, billed to Hubert Porter and The Jamaican Calypso Funmakers:

"Mary's Lamb"       backed with
"Old Lady You Mashing Me Toe"

This single was taken from an LP on the same label.

 
Here are several singles of polished dance-band style mento by Hubert Porter and The Jamaican Calypsonians singles on Times Records. Some of these sides can be heard on easily found CDs. See the Valmark collections and Jamaican Mento - Authentic Recordings on the Can I Buy Mento? page. They also appeared on some of the Times Store LPs, as seen on the More Golden Age Album Scans page.

     


"Rum and Coconut Water"   b/w:   "Not Me" (plus a label variation from another pressing).

"Rum and Coconut Water" is a cover of the cross-over calypso hit. "Not Me" was recorded by several mento acts as well Harry Belafonte, who re-titled it, "Man Smart, Woman Smarter".

     

Taken from two different discs are both sides of another Hubert Porter single on the T
imes Store
label:

          "Miss Goosie (Medley)"  
     b/w
"Ugly Woman"

 

(Sorry, a larger image of the latter is not available.)


In addition to being compiled as described above, "Miss Goosie" was popular enough for Hubert to record several times, and for several reggae artists to record as well, as can be seen on the Non-mento Covers of Mento Songs page. "Ugly Woman", on the other hand, has never been compiled, released only on this single .
 


     

Two more popular sides Hubert Porter and The Jamaican Calypsonians sides on Times Records:

"Miss Daisy and Brown Skin Girl"  backed with  "Old Lady".

 



 

A Hubert Porter and The Jamaican Calypsonians 45 RPM single on the Times Records label:

"Don't Fence Her In" 
  backed with 
"Mary Ann".

 

From Allen Kaatz's Collection
In August of 2003, Allen Kaatz of the US generously supplied this web site with a collection of label scans. Five golden age label scans can be seen below. Two more of Allen's scans can be seen on the Lord Flea page and two on the Count Messam page.

 

On the rare Maracas label, Lord Power and His Calypsonians:

Mambo La La      b/w
Special Amber Calypso

These tracks can be heard on the easy to obtain CD collection, Boogu Yagga Gal

   


Three golden age 45 RPM label scans, also courtesy of Allen Kaatz of the US. Most of these tracks first appeared on 78 RPM singles before being reissued on 45. For two more from Allen's collection, see the Lord Tanamo page, and the Count Lasher page for another.

"Phantom Rapist" by
Les Walker and "The Brigadiers

"Tight Dress", the b-side of the previous
Les Walker
side.

"Mongoose In Mento", by
Baba Motta with Ernie Ranglin and His Orchestra!!

From Richard Noblett's Collection

Thanks to Richard Noblett of London, who in May of 2004 sent me a great set of scans for this site. Fourteen mento 78 RPM label scans from his impressive collection are below. Two more scans each from his collection can be seen on the Count Owen, Lord Lebby, Count Messam and Lord Tanamo pages. Four more each can be seen on the Count Lasher and ten more Harold Richardson page. Four Lord Fly scans can be seen on that page. Over time, he provided even more scans that can be seen elsewhere on this page and on other various pages of this site.
  On the Kalypso label is a single by the Trenton Spence Quartet

Matty Belly (voc: Roy Shurland) b/w:
One Baggie (voc: Lord Power)




  Not from Richard's collection, here's the same record, but on the Hi-Lite label. Note the legend, "Cut Exclusively for Reid's Sound System" that appears on all Hi-Lite discs. Duke Reid started his production career with a brace of mento 78s.

  Another MRS single, this one by Clyde Hoyte backed by the dance band stylings of the George Moxey Quartet:

Montego Calypso    b/w:
Daphne Walking

Hoyte passed away December 2003.
 

On the Synco label is a single by band leader and pianist Mapletoft Poulle. As the label is uncommonly informative, we can see amongst the musician credits that the lead singer is Peter Hudson and lyrics and music are by Lord Bogue:
"Tower Isle"  backed with "Miss Universe".
 
 

The label also designates both of these light hearted, jazzy songs as "Mento-Calypso".

Richard additionally provided two clippings from The Daily Gleaner in 1955 pertaining to this release, the first from March 3 and the second from September 16.

 


Tony Johnson
has never been one of my favorites, but that's just my opinion. His dance band mento was good enough for UK Parlophone to release at least one single:

 
 
Matty Rag     b/w:
Linstead Market

which is credited to Tony Johnson with The Calypso Serenaders Band and The Ebonaires.

(And points to Parlophone for adding the legend "Jamaican Mento" to the label.)



  Additionally, Tony Johnson released a number of other singles in the UK on the Melodisc label, such as this one:

Sly Moongoose      b/w:      Imogene

On the A-side, Tony is backed by Bertie King's Jamaicans, who play an instrumental on the B-side.


Four more Tony Johnson singles on Melodisc close out Richard Noblett's collection. Melodisc re-released Jamaican music in the UK. Recording in a variety of genres, Melodisc helpfully labeled the style of each Tony Johnson track:

 



Mango Walk    b/w:
Me Donkey Want Water

With:
The
Caribbean 
Serenaders.
Both tracks are labeled
"Mento" and "Jamaican Rumba".



Marilyn Monroe Calypso b/w:
Nosey Joe (Blues-Mambo)

With:
Cyril Jones' Calypso
Boys.



Without You (Beguine)
b/w:
Cuban Love Song (Bolero)

With:
Mike McKenzie's
Habaneros.



Give Her Banana (Calypso)
b/w:
Man Smart, Woman Smarter (Calypso)

With:
His Carousel Band.

Louise Lamb


Also from Richard Noblett's collection, on the unusual Crystal label, a dance band single by female mento singer Louise Lamb. 

Cutting Wood 
      b/w:
Give Me Love


Both songs are credited to F. Williams, who is perhaps E. F. (Everard) Williams, described on the Chin's Calypso Sextet page. "Cutting Wood" is a funny double entendre song that largely uses the melody of Rukumbine. It was covered on a surprising turn by Girl Wonder.

Louise recorded at least one other single,  "Hotel On Wheels" backed with "Trust No Man".

In April of 2008, I was happy to hear from Louise Lamb’s son Michael Morales, and a family friend, Helen McCulloch. Since Louise Lamb is alive, healthy and displays a fine memory for someone who is 82, they were able to provide me with some information:

She was born in Kingston, Jamaica and is purely Jamaican. She married my father Carlton Morales and has three children, my older brother and sister and me. We are from a musical family I suppose. My cousin, (my mother's sister's child), is Alain Laughten who is currently a singer in Jamaica doing quite well, my brother played guitar for Julian Lennon in the 80's, (John Lennon's son), and I myself play bass guitar and have toured in Norway and in the states. My mother lives in Greensboro, NC in the US.

My mom says that she thinks that Cutting Wood was recorded either 1956 or 1957. As far as the producer she is not sure. Dada Tawari went to high school with her but did not get involved in music until after she had stopped singing. She says that Stanley Motta was the one that had the only recording facility on the island at that time, so everyone that wanted to record used it.

My mom told me when she went to get a copy of the record they were all sold out and she never got one. My aunt in Jamaica told her a long time ago that she may have one, but we never did hear anything else about it.

More than half a century later I was happy to reunite Louise Lamb with her recordings. When her son played "Perfect Love" for her over the phone, she laughed, and said, "yes, that's me".

From Ulrich Stark's Collection

Here is a very nice collection of label scans courtesy of Ulrich Stark of Germany. Four more of Ulrich's scans can be seen on the Chins page and two more are on the Count Lasher page.

 


A classic single on Kalypso (that, as can be seen to the above right was popular enough for a 45 RPM re-release) is the harmonica driven rural mento of Sir Horace and His Merry Knights:

"Morgan's Mento"    backed with:    "Mambo Jamaica"

Ken Khouri produced this Kalypso 78 RPM single in 1958. The label tells us that Sir Horace's surname is Abrahams. Unusually, it also bears the legend, "A Real Treasure", prefacing by several decades reggae 45s that would bare the legend "scorcher". 

Both sides are indeed a treasure -- insanely catchy, high-energy harmonica driven mento. Each side follows a popular subject for mento songs. The first is about a Caribbean dance craze. The second is about a type of rum. (Another rum song, Lord Power's "Special Amber Calypso", can be heard on Boogu Yagga Gal. Another two dance-craze songs can be heard on the Valmark CDs. )

Because they are favorites and the and these songs were out of print when this site was created, here are song clips of Mambo Jamaica and Morgan's Mento. [Click here for notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.]

Both of these songs became available on CD in 2013 on the collection called "Mento, Not Calypso".


Below Sir Horace and His Merry Knights rarer the follow up single to the one above

 

  On a Kalypso 45 RPM single:

"Mambo Mento"
(written by George Harriott)   

   b/w

"Jamaica Magic"
(written by Horace Abrahams)

Both sides are filled with harmonica, adroit electric guitar solos and aggressive, sax, maracas and prominent accomplished conga drum playing that not present in the prior single. Both sides are very upbeat, but dialed down a notch from the ecstasy of the prior single.

"Mambo Mento" is a direct followup to "Mambo Jamaica". It features choruses of ay, ay, ays and a touch of Hawaiian sound , especially on the electric slide guitar.

"Jamaica Magic" is a tourist song, recounting all of the island's history and all a visitor can do there, including "Dance to the mento, 'neath the bright silvery moon". It's more welcome than the umpteenth rendition of "Take Her To Jamaica".

Sir Horace also recorded a two singles in the 1970s, as seen here


 

Two songs from the mento repertoire played by the Brute Force Steel Band of Antigua:

Jumbie Jamborie    b/w
Wheel and Turn Me

These tracks are collected on MRS album MOTL4.

 

Ulrich Stark's collection continues with the eight Laurel Aitken on Caribou scans below.

Laurel Aitken
Though best known (especially in the UK) as a ska performer, Laurel had his start in mento and in R&B before the advent of ska.  Many of these sides can be heard on CD collection , "Laurel Aitken, Pioneer of Jamaican Music", which features 25 Aitken sides in a variety of styles. Another compilation, "Soundman Shots" has 6 Laurel Aitken sides.


 
"Prisoner Song"   backed with
"They Got It"

"Calypso Rock And Roll"  backed with
"Night Fall In Zion"

"Rock Santa Rock"   backed with
"Wayward Traveler"

Both sides of the first single can be heard on the CD collection "Pioneer of Jamaican Music".

The other two singles, like the first, is in  Laurel's style of sax led mento with electric rhythm guitar and hand drum. "Rock Santa Rock" owes a bit to Lord Flea's Shake Shake Senora.

 
  A Laurel Aitken oddity on the PEP label, as leas singer of the obscure Milton Dawes Band:

"Lady From Trinidad"   b/w

"Merenguito"

A Laurel Aitken 45 RPM single:

"Tribute To Collie Smith"        b/w        "Baba Kill Me Goat".

As we can see, it was released on the Caribou label, Kalypso and RCA.
 

    
 
 



  Another Laurel Aitken single on Caribou, with R&B sounds:

"Aitken's Boogie" is on the Pioneer CD.

"Cherrie" is not compiled. The Jolly Boys would cover it as "Nightfall".



  Another Laurel Aitken single, this time on MRS:

"One Night In Mexico"    b/w:
"You Are" is not compiled.

Aitken is sporting a softer, popular sound here. Neither side is compiled


    Courtesy of Richard Noblett of London, here are four more Laurel Aitken sides on Caribou:

Sweet Charriot        b/w:
Nebuchnezer

and

The Wall Or Jericho      b/w:
Rege Dege Ding

"Rege Dege Ding" is sometimes considered the first usage of the word "reggae".

Go here for more info on "Nebuchnezer" and to hear a clip.

More of Richard Noblett's scans appear below.

EPs and  Interesting Sleeves

Here's something you don't see every day. Courtesy of Jeremy Collingwood (www.Traxonwax.net) is this MRS sleeve that has survived from the 1950s. Click on the image for a larger view, and you will see which MRS golden age singles were "new releases" and which were "old favorites" at that point in time. The sleeve also has an MRS logo not seen elsewhere.

With 4 tracks from the LP of the same name and same cover art, is the 5 song EP, "Calypsos From Jamaica". "Talking Parrot" by Count Lasher is the 5th track.


The other four tracks are:

Day-O - Denzel Laing
Limbo - Lord Tickler (Harold Richardson)
Linstead Market - Denzel Laing
Mary's Lamb - Hubert Porter

Though the jacket label identified the label as  being released on the NYC-based Ritmo (as was the related LP), the disc leaves little doubt where the tracks were licensed from.

Another version of the 45 RPM "Calypsos From Jamaica" EP on Kalypso, courtesy of Matt Dinsmore of San Francisco. This scan is of the opposite of the on shown above.

Courtesy of Matthias Münchow of Hamburg, Germany is 4 song 7" 45 RPM EP on the Kalypso label entitled "Calypsos For Adam and Eve":

A - Lord Kirchener: "Big Toe";  Duke of Iron: "Big Bamboo"
B - Sir George Brown: "He Like It, She Like It";
     Four Deuces: "Lemme Go Emelda"

Says Matthias, the A-side is calypso, while the B-side is more Jamaican in style.

Courtesy again of Xavier Guillamon of Barcelona, Spain (http://soundsystemfm.reggae-blog.net)is the Mary [Marie] Bryant four song EP, "Calypsos Too Hot Too Handle" on the  Kalypso label. This album was also released in the UK on the Fab label. For more on Marie Bryant, see above.

 

   

Also courtesy of Xavier Guillamon is this 1958 Ben Bowers with Bertie King and His Rotal Jamaicans four song EP, "Kings Of Calypso Volume 4" on the UP Pye/Nixa label.

 

   

   

Thanks again to Xavier Guillamon strange specimen from . Say what you want about the cover art, but when Argentina wants a spicy cover, they don't mess around. Xavier speculates that this is not the actual original jacket. "Vacation In The Caribbean" on the Vox/Opus label has tracks from artists from various Caribbean countries. Jamaica is represented by "Take Her To Jamaica; Time So Hard" and "Banana; Boogu Yagga Face[?]" by The Tower Isle Orchestra. "[Calypso] Cha Cha" by Cecil Lloyd and His Orchestra is attributed to Cuba. Both tracks are presented in a polished Latin jazz style.

Kalypso was not the only label to release 7" 4 song EPs. Here is one from MRS that draws 4 songs from the album MRS - Authentic Jamaican Calypsos, Volume 4.

 

  1. Water the  Garden -
    Count Lasher and His Calypso Quintet
2. Breadfruit Season -
    Count Lasher's Seven

1. Jumbie Jamboree -
   The Brute Force Steel Band (Antigua)
2. Wheel and Turn Me -
   The Brute Force Steel Band (Antigua)

 
Courtesy of Brian Keyo of  Massachusetts, here's a nice picture sleeve four track 7" EP by the Tower Islanders. It was released on the US Fiesta label in 1954. The songs and the style of the printed lyrics are taken from The Tower Islander's album.


Also see...

For more more label and jacket scans and song clips, also see this site's:

 

email me at:
mike@mentomusic.com

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