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Harold Richardson and The Ticklers

 

Page last revised: 5/18/14

 

Jump to:

  Background    Photo Gallery    Golden Age Singles    Middle Period Recordings    Also see...  


 

Background

Harold Richardson, along with Count Lasher, may have been the very best singer in mento, or, at least, my favorite. His voice is a country voice -- a mento voice -- high, nasal and endlessly expressive (and no doubt a major influence on Stanley Beckford ). Throughout his recording career, which began in the early 1950s, Harold often performed with his group, The Ticklers. The other members of this trio were Danny Slue (a.k.a. Lord Danny Boy) on rumba box and Charles Sang on guitar.
 

 

Harold also recorded as lead singer for a variety of other groups. His career extended into the 1960s when he appeared on some middle period hotel LPs and singles. Sadly, this talent died too young. On December 5, 1965, he passed in his early thirties.

This last piece of information came from Annmarie Prendergast, Harold Richardson's daughter. She also provided information about Harold's family. He was married to Joy (nee Tewari) who still resides in Jamaica. The Richardson's had 5 children, one boy (Harold Junior, the eldest child) and Annmarie and her three sisters. Says Annmarie, "If he were alive he would cherish the fact that he currently has 12 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. Two of us children sing, and one grandchild sings even better than we all put together." Another mento star, Hubert Porter, was a close family friend. The eldest child was just 15 when he passed. "All we ever had of him were the memories of his beautiful voice charming my mom and us at times."

One of the grandchildren, Tamara Naar, sent me a family heirloom: the wonderful gallery of photographs below. Notice the big smiles on the faces of the people photographed with the band in many of these photos. Apparently few musical groups lived up to their name as much as The Ticklers.

             

Musical ambassadors The Ticklers on a trip to Montreal in 1965. They were presenting a plaque from the Jamaican Government to the Pro-Mayor of Montreal, Mr Gagnon. (Danny and Harold.)

   

The Ticklers sing at Mayor Daley's regular press conference in Chicago, "the most successful he has ever held" according to one newspaper reporter. (Danny, Harold and Charles.)

[Ticklers detail zoom]

   

The Ticklers in a photograph taken in March 1964. (Danny, Harold and Charles.)

           
           

Governor Volpe of Massachusetts enjoys a house call from The Ticklers. (Harold, Danny and Charles.)

   

The Ticklers at the Tower Isle Hotel, with a guest sitting in. (Charles, Harold and Danny.)

   

The Ticklers garner applauds and smiles at a Toronto presentation. (Harold, Danny and Charles.)

[Ticklers detail zoom]

           
           

The Ticklers on one of their visits to the US.

[Ticklers detail zoom]

   

The Ticklers at Fashion Show at the Carson, Pirie, Scott building in Chicago.

[Ticklers detail zoom]

   

Above and following, two additional photos from The Ticklers trip to Montreal.

           
           
     
The Ticklers in the USA.

[Ticklers detail zoom]

The details shows the rumba box to read, "Tower Isle Ticklers, B. W. I. A., Jamaica".

           
 

From the collection of Glenbow Museum of Calgary, Alberta, Canada is this mid-1960s image, entitled "Scroll of Friendship presented to Mayor Jack Leslie from the Jamaica Tourist Board, Calgary, Alberta". It shows that the post-Harold Richardson Ticklers lineup continued in its capacity as musical ambassadors for Jamaica's Tourist Board


Golden Age Singles  

  A classic single on the MRS label by Harold Richardson and The Ticklers:

"Glamour Gal"          b/w
"Don't Fence Her In".

 


Here is the UK rerelease
of this single on the
Melodisc
label.



From an ad in
The Daily Gleaner
November 28, 1952,
"At the top of the list"

Some sources dubiously claim that this is the first Jamaican mento record, even though the label numbering would indicate otherwise. But if not the first, it is certainly one of the greatest of all mento singles. "Glamour Gal" is a rich slice-of-life song, as the country-voiced Richardson marvels at the ways of the beauty parlor set in Kingston. A number of popular hair styles are listed, and such fashion accessories as false beauty marks, padded bras and bleaching cream are discussed!

These lyrics are by E. F. Williams, who was a member and the lyricist for Chin's Calypso Sextet. Williams' name would appear on the b-side of this single and other Ticklers singles as well. Dan Neely's liner notes for the Chin's Calypso Sextet CDs confirms that Williams wrote the lyrics for "virtually everything Harold Richardson and the Ticklers recorded".

The accompaniment is just acoustic guitar, hand percussion and backing vocals, leaving room for the full expression of Harold's singing. A truly great track that spawned a less great sequel, called "Country Girl". This song can be purchased on the compilation CD, "Mento Madness". Because it's a favorite and the clip was posted before the song came back in print, here is a song clip of Glamour Gal, followed by the lyrics. [Click here for notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.]
 

"Glamour Gal", by E. F. Williams:

They got some glamour gal in this town
Why I tell you their brain is sound                     
Them know the way to dress up in style
And them have them on in all the while

That's the kind of gal they call a glamour gal 
And that's the kind of gal that always make you mad

When dem fix dem hair, dem is a solid treat
You might not like it, but dem looks sweet
Them got one style dem call Poke And Roll
and another dem call Drop Curl

[CHORUS]

Dem got one style dem call Up Sweep
One too much that dem call Down Sweep
Dem have one style that dem call Page Boy
Another one that dem call Big Treat

[CHORUS]

Then dem place a black spot beside their nose
Them dem call that the "beauty pose"
And if them too black and it don't show
Dem put on bleaching cream, as you know

[CHORUS]

I run cross one Saturday night
Why, I never see such a pleasing site
But when she leave me, my fob was dent
Sunday morning I pay no rent

Dem have one something them redden their lip
Dem bind their waist till that sting like whip
And if dem chest is looking flat
New style brassier take care of that

[CHORUS]

Now listen folks to what I have to say
Dis country girl dem a have a funny way
For when dem go down to walk, a chi chi bop
And when you touch dem, dey say, "no badda me"
But if you want to see Kingstonian walk
Don't hesitate to ask dem what dem want
 


[they know what they are doing]



<- the Chorus
[mad meaning crazy, not angry]



[Thanks to Robert Lea of Spanishtown, JA for
           help with this line































[Thanks again to Robert Lea for help with this line]
 

In Don't Fence Her In, advice is offered on the right way to treat a woman. Again, a simple arrangement, outstanding vocals and great lyrics equal a classic original mento side. The same sparse arrangement is employed as on the flip side. Hereafter, prominent clarinet would be heard on HR&T singles. This was played by jazz talent Bertie King. Because it's a favorite track and was out of print when I posted it, here is a song clip of Don't Fence Her In. The track can now be heard on the double CD collection called "Jamaica - Mento 1951-1958 as seen here. Special thanks  to Robert Lea of Spanishtown, Jamaica for transcribing these lyrics for the readers of this web site.

"Don't Fence Her In", by E. F. Williams:

Many men make a big mistake
When dem treat dem girl-friend mean
Some of dem have a jealous mind
So dem try to fence her in

Don’t you fence her in
Give her money but no fence her in
Don’t you fence her in
If you want she stay no fence her in

I met a girl the other day
And I court her like a queen
She say she come to me for money
But I must not fence her in

[CHORUS]

The first thing that she called down fa
Is a pair of ankle wrap
Mi open mi mouth fi go say something
But when she smile mi shut up brap

[CHORUS]

She ask mi next to fix her teeth
And I think she was too bold
But when she turn and make her sign
I would a full her mouth with gold

[CHORUS]

She ask mi next for a spectacle
And I did not like the sauce
But she put some sought a kiss pon mi
I would a give her twelve eye glass

[CHORUS]

She ask mi next for a twelve pound watch
And dat one gave me a shock
But when she whine her body line
I would a give her Parade Clock

[CHORUS]

Later on I says to her
Is my time to call down now
And all I want is a baby boy
And I hope there’ll be no row

She jump up with a piece a stick
And say man you think mi da grin
For when want come talk bout baby boy
A fence you want come fence me in

[CHORUS]
 







































[Pound as in currency, not weight]
 

 


At some point, this classic single received a shoddy re-release on the US-based Hilltop Records label.  Both titles have errors and the artist credit is wrong.

 
 
Another single on the MRS label by Harold Richardson and The Ticklers:

Four Days of Love     b/w:
Healing In The Balm Yard

(Thanks to Richard Noblett of London for these two and the following 4 scans.)

These tracks add Bertie King's clarinet to the arrangement, giving the sound something of a quaint, old-time feel. "Four Days of Love" is a charming track, where Harold sings about a number of terms of endearment. Has there ever been a sweeter vocal delivery in the history of Jamaican music?

"Healin' in De Balm Yard" is another E. F. Williams-penned classic. It's about a piece of land that can work healing and black magic spells, if you pay a price to the balmer. Clarinet, piano and percussion give this song a handsome urban arrangement. And, as always, HR's vocals are a pleasure. "Healin' in De Balm Yard" can be purchased on the recommended compilation CD, "Mento Madness". Because it's a favorite, here is a song clip of Healin' in De Balm Yard, made part of this site before the song came back into print. Special thanks once again to Robert Lea of Spanishtown, Jamaica for making a number of corrections to what I had originally transcribed below.

"Healing In The Balm Yard", by E. F. Williams:

I guess you 'ear about the balm yard
and how the balmer did guard
But if you want to hear some more
'bout what happen' back-a-door
listen, healing in the balm yard

(Come along and watch di) healing in the balm yard,
(Halleluiah) healing in the balm yard
If you want to hear something,
come and hear how mi da sing
'bout the healing in the balm yard

If you want to balm for a job,
balmer going to charge you only two bob
with his right hand on the go
and the candle burning low,
that is healing in the balm yard

[CHORUS]

Jackie want to give Lor swell feet,
because she said the gal dressed too sweet
Balmer say ya bring a cock,
and white calico frock
for the healing in the balm yard

[CHORUS]

So him took her into a tent,
and him make she feel so content
If she did know how healin’ sweet
every day she would a dweet
she love the healin’ in the balm yard

[CHORUS]

A woman want to hold down a man,
and want to do it as fast she can
Balmer say you bring a fowl,
and some silver in a bowl
and I will fix you in the balm yard

[CHORUS]

A woman want to win peaka pow,
and want the balmer to tell her how
Balmer say, "you come tonight,
but no bother bring no light,
and let me heal you in the balm yard"
 







["back-a-door" = behind closed doors?]


<- Chorus





















(thanks to Sara Scott of northern California for
    the help with this couplet)














["peaka pow" is a gambling game]



 

   

On MRS, a 78 RPM single by Harold Richardson and The Calypso Bouncers

"Parson First"   b/w:
"Sunday Rice and Peas"

The Calypso Bouncers is an unfamiliar name, and this rural band does not sound like the same musicians that play on Richardson's other recordings. Both tracks are written by R. Thompson, who has written asides for various golden age mento singers.

In "Parson First", Harold sings "I don't want to stir up strife, but why parson first must kiss the bride?". He worries that the parson will make an appearance at the honeymoon. "Sunday Rice and Peas" is a tale about a man demands a particular dish for dinner on a particular night of the week.

    

On MRS, a 78 RPM single by Harold Richardson and The Ticklers

"What A Hard Time"   b/w:
"Advice To Men"

 

     

Here is the same 78 RPM single, but released on the UK reissue label, Melodisc,

 

   

Again on Melodisc, another 78 by Harold Richardson and The Ticklers:

Parish Gal               b/w:
Hard Hearted Lover

 

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

   

One side of the above record, "Hard Hearted Lover", on the original MRS 78 RPM release.

The other side, "Parish Gal" can be heard today on the 2006 CD compilation, "Take Me To Jamaica".


 

Both sides of a MRS 45 RPM single by Harold Richardson and Charlie Binger and His Quintet: "Country Gal"       b/w:
"Jamaica Is The Place To Go".

 

Charlie Binger and His Quintet provide a somewhat more urban sound, featuring electric guitar. "Country Gal" is a sequel of sorts to "Glamour Gal". It can be heard on the compilation CD, "Mento Madness".

"Jamaica Is The Place To Go" features lyrics that advertised Jamaica as a tourist destination. This was a very popular theme in mento's middle period, well as the golden age. Here is a sound clip for "Jamaica Is The Place To Go".



Starting with four more scans, courtesy of Richard Noblett of London, is a common yet confusing release by Harold Richardson.
 "Limbo", backed with either "Mama Look Tea" or "Medley".

The only thing consistent is the recording of "Limbo" as also found on the CD compilation "Dip and Fall Back" (which also includes "Medley"), both Valmark CDs and on the Monogram LP, "Meet Me In Jamaica". Both flip sides are both found also on the Monogram LP. On those releases, the artist is not credited. On the original singles below, the artist is mis-credited, though in both cases, clues are dropped. The instrumentation features piano, clarinet and several percussionists.

  First, here is the single re-released on the NYC-based Monogram label. The b-side is "Mama Look Tea".

The artist is listed as
Richards and His Jamaica Calypso Orchestra.

  Here is the single on Kalypso, but with a medley listed as the flip side to "Limbo". But in actuality, "Mama Look Tea" is heard again rather than the medley.

The artist is listed as
Lord Tickler and The Jamaican Calypsonians

  Here is the same record, but on this pressing, the medley is present:

"MEDLEY Sweetie Charlie, Mango Walk, Mr. Parney"

though "Sweetie Charlie" comes last, not first.

  And finally for no other reason than a splash of color, here is the same Kalypso single with different pigmentation. I'm not sure whether the label is accurate on this particular specimen.



Also on Kalypso
is two variations
of the same record
released as a 45
rather than a 78.

Four "Lord Tickler" tracks, "Green Guava", "Jamaican Medley # Five (Jackass/Ya Ma Mama Ma Ma)", "Limbo" and "Medley: Mango Walk/Give Me Back Me Shilling/Sweetie Charlie" can be heard on the 2006 CD compilation, "Take Me To Jamaica".

   

 

Here are two of those Lord Tickler tracks on a Kalypso 78 RPM single and then again as 45 RPM single:

 

Mama Look Tea         b/w
Green Guava

 

Courtesy of Richard Noblett of London, here's a 45 RPM single on the Kalypso label billed to The Ticklers .

"Bed Bug"    
                           backed with
"Seven Bells"

 

Thanks to Richard , I can describe their sound. On "Bed Bug", The Ticklers share lead vocal duties. On "Seven Bells" (an update of "Seven Veils"), Harold Richardson takes lead vocals. Both songs feature many new lyrics for these familiar songs. Vocals on both tracks are backed simply by acoustic guitar, bass and maracas.


From this autographed copy of "Bed Bug", we can see that King Bravo filling in for Harold Richardson.

 

Middle Period Recordings

Harold Richardson appeared on the "Tower Isle Hotel" LP on the Tower Isle label. It includes, amongst a variety of other sounds, three songs voiced by Harold: two dance band mento tracks ("Slide Mongoose" and "Liza") and a ska track ("Nice Girl Ska", which is a ska rendition of "Brown Skin Gal"). There is also a song that veers towards cocktail jazz voiced by Harold's fellow Tickler, Donald Slue. For more on this LP, visit the "More Middle Period Album Scans" page. Also on that page are scans of another LP from the Tower Isle Hotel. Although I haven't heard this LP, the liner notes explain that Harold Richardson and The Ticklers appear at that hotel and on this LP.

A 5 song single by The Lord Danny Boy Calypso Trio on a nameless label, with autographs. All three members of this trio are Ticklers, including Harold Richardson:
  Side 1 has two tracks, sung by rumba box player Danny Slue: "Bed Bug" and "Water The Garden"

Side 2 has three tracks, sung by Harold Richardson, who plays maracas on this release: "Take Her To Jamaica" (a remake), "The Naughty Little Flea" and "Shake Shake Senora". 

The trio is rounded out by guitarist Charles Sang. The instrumentation is kept folk-simple (just acoustic guitar and maracas) so that the lead and harmony vocals are emphasized. The Goldenaires released a middle period LP that sounded similar in this way.

In September of 2005, I heard from Bill Casey, of Brisbane Australia, who had a copy of this disc in a picture sleeve with a colorized group photo on the front and liner notes on the back. Scans are to the right, courtesy of Bill.    

Bill Casey is an Associate of the Australian Studies Centre at the University of Queensland, Brisbane. One of his areas of research is the cross-pollination of music styles in Australia. Says Bill, "Calypso is rarely mentioned, but it's there as a delightful cultural link between Australia and the Windies". In addition to the above scans, he also took the time to supply the below information on this release:

The Lord Danny Boy Calypso Trio recorded these songs in Melbourne, Australia. They were performing at a restaurant cabaret called Mario's. The prominence of the ‘Mario's of Melbourne’ banner on the cover, their residency at the restaurant, and the fact that the EP was sold at the venue all suggest Mario's was financially involved in issuing the record. Not having 'Mario's' printed on the record label was almost certainly part of the deal. It meant that the trio could keep copies unsold during their residency and offer them for sale in plain white covers, (or even a new cover?), at their next gig.

The Melbourne TV channel, GTV 9, is mentioned on the back cover. In 1960, the English Pye company, makers of TVs, radios, record players, and owners of the Pye record company, bought the GTV 9 license. Pye Australia established a Melbourne record company called the Astor label. Astor recorded some of their artists at the GTV 9 studios. I'd suggest that was where the trio cut these songs - in what was once an old soup factory in Bendigo St, Richmond, a Melbourne suburb.

The recording date is 1960, although the cover doesn't provide that information. In 1960 the trio had an Australian manager, Wildman, a bandleader who had met them at Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Apart from Mario’s, the trio performed at Chequers, a Sydney nightclub, and were often on variety TV shows. There were no Australia-wide television networks in those days, so the shows (In Melbourne Tonight, In Sydney Tonight, In Brisbane Tonight, etc) were only broadcast to the city in which the studio was located.

[Roberto Moore of Jamaica points out:
 
"Wildman" is Max Wildman.  Max came to Jamaica with his band the Caribs in the Late 1950's and was performing in Kingston as well as on the North Coast. They were a band very much interested in learning and playing local music so they definitely would have met the trio here in Jamaica.]

Australian interest in the West Indies during 1960 was running high. The Windies cricket side was due to tour at the end of the year. The tour was a spectacular success - not least because of the famous drawn test at Brisbane in December 1960. Another Jamaican act - Harriott & Evans, a male vocal duo - also came to Australia and recorded around the same time.

The cross-pollination of music styles in Australia is a fascinating area. Calypso is rarely mentioned, but as the Lord Danny Boy Calypso Trio prove, the influence existed - a delightful cultural link between Australia and the Windies, and between calypso fans everywhere.

Bill Casey, Australian Studies Centre, University of Queensland, Brisbane.
(P.S. Thanks to Vinyl Solution of Melbourne for finding the EP.)

Also See:

The "More Middle Period Album Scans" page for scans of another LP from the Tower Isle Hotel that include Harold Richardson performances. One of these LPs has Harold singing a ska track!

 

email me at:
mike@mentomusic.com

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