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1950s
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Count Lasher

 

Last revised: 9/18/16

 

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Count Lasher
(Terence Parkins) was most likely mento's greatest single talent. He was one of mento's very best vocalists (along with Harold Richardson) and one of its very best writers (along with Everard Williams). Lasher was equally at home recording in the rural and urban mento styles, just as he was recording original compositions as well as old Jamaican mento/folk songs.

He was Jamaica's biggest golden age mento star, full of talent and charisma. His popularity was only rivaled by the cross-over fame of Lord Flea.

Lasher was also one of mento's most prolific artists, recording at least 50 tracks right through the first part of the 1970s, by which time he had moved from various mento sounds to a brief dalliance with ska and then into reggae.

 

Considering that he is Jamaica's first recording star, is shocking and a travesty that biographical information and photos of Count Lasher are not to be found! (After 3 years of fruitless search, someone was kind enough to send me the  above picture.) As such, this page will have to concentrate instead on the Count Lasher records that I have heard.

For all the many singles he recorded, Lasher has never released a CD or LP. And although a handful of his tracks are available today (as seen as the bottom of this page) considering his stature, Count Lasher may be the single most neglected artist in the history of Jamaican recorded music.

Count Lasher died in 1977 at the age of 51.

Golden Age (1950s) Singles

 

On the MRS label, a 78 RPM single by Count Lasher's Seven:

Mango Time         b/w
Breadfruit Season

"Mango Time" is rural, but sans banjo. It's pure magic from the opening hand drum roll. (There is fine hand drum playing throughout this song. ) The varieties of mango, how their sold and the enjoyment and impact that mango season brings is fully explored in the rich slice of life lyrics. Lasher recorded a sequel for the flip-side called "Breadfruit Season" that was good, but paled by comparison. This single was on MRS and these tracks also appeared on the LP, "MRS - Authentic Jamaican Calypsos  - Volume 4."

But because it is a favorite of mine and it was not in print, when I posted the clip, here is a sample of Mango Time[Click here for notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.] It can now be heard on the double CD collection called "Jamaica - Mento 1951-1958 as seen here. The lyrics are below:

"Mango Time", by Count Lasher:

Mango time, mango time
Yes the temperature getting hot
Mango time, mango time
And poor people turn down dem pot
In every cranny, in every nook
The people dem done with shop
Because they don't have to cook
Because mango arrive and drop

Yes, the fellows push the carts all day and hear dem holler "Mango dem!"
Dem got Beefy, Turpentine, Bombay and Number 11, "Mango dem!" 
Kidney, Harris and Joellen, Calcutta and Black Mango
Robin, Hilltop, East Indian, all different kind of mango

I tell you friends, you can bet,
when the season just begins
The first one that you get
you eat down to the very skin
But see a when it 'nuff
Everybody a pick and choose
Dem no buy from this [kuff?] because their mango bruised

Yes, the fellows push the carts all day and hear dem holler "Mango dem!"
Dem got Beefy, Turpentine, Bombay and Number 11, "Mango dem!" 
Kidney, Harris and Joellen, Calcutta and Black Mango
Robin, Hilltop, East Indian, all different kind of mango

Mango time, mango time
Everyone is wearing a smile
And they don't give a lime
Because dem belly full all the while
From Morant Point point to Negrill
Everyone is feeling well
Some stay in and eat their fill
While others walk and sell

Yes, the fellows push the carts all day and hear dem holler "Mango dem!"
Dem got Beefy, Turpentine, Bombay and Number 11, "Mango dem!" 
Kidney, Harris and Joellen, Calcutta and Black Mango
Robin, Hilltop, East Indian, all different kind of mango

 

On the MRS label, a 78 RPM single by Count Lasher and his Calypso Quintet. Count Lasher is also identified as the singer, and is given writing credit under a misspelling of his real name, Terence Perkins. 

Sam Fi Man          b/w
Things Gone Up

"Sam Fi Man" features great banjo that alternates between playing lead lines and a proto-reggae rhythm. The song is a tale warning about a sam fi man -- a con man. In addition to standing alone as a great mento song, this track is also very exciting in the way that it prefaces reggae about a decade before the term would be coined. Like "Mango Time", Sam Fi Man  appeared on the LP, "MRS - Authentic Jamaican Calypsos  - Volume 4", and has not yet been compiled on CD. But because it is a favorite of mine and was not in print when this content was created, here is a song clip of Sam Fi Man[Click here for notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.]  In June of 2006, this song was released on the CD compilation, "Take Me To Jamaica".

"Sam Fi Man", by Count Lasher:

Come now folks, gather what you can
while I tell you about the sam fi man
Him always claim you must ensure
to fool and fix, even kill and even cure

Sam fi man, sam fi man
try to avoid him as best you can
For if you drop, him then trap
You will never able to stop your gap

Him can always do good fe you
but would himself that you can not do
He can help you get a job
if you only give him a 30 bob

To kill a man that a feeling[?] line
all him charge you a 9 pound 9
But if you want to complete
3 pounds of fine salt you have to eat                           ["fine salt" is table salt. Thanks Mark Lee!]

To win the sweep, I understand
you have to go to a sam fi man
But after you hear him fit to the job
you have to eat up a whole bull frog

A woman went to a sam fi man
because she wanted to tie her man
The sam fi man charge her 9 pound 9
and tell her not to feel down [?] for three weeks time
 

The b-side, "Things Gone Up" is a fine mento song about the hardships of rising prices. With a faster tempo, altered rhythm and prominent bamboo sax, it is less reminiscent of reggae than the flip side. The song would give Harry Belafonte the melody for his hit, "Matilda". Lasher would twice remake this track, as seen here and here.

At the end of 2011, I came across this rare Count Lasher single on MRS, perhaps his last for that label. Both sides feature the piano, sax, bass and hand drum arrangement common of backing band George Moxey and his Calypso Quintet. Both songs were written by Chin's Calypso Quintet member E. F. Williams.

 
You Got To Pay                b/w:
Time For A Change

"You Got To Pay" is about money being short and has a melody that is sometimes reminiscent of the Harold Richardson & The Ticklers song, "Four Days Of Love".
 

"Time For A Change" is a song about falling out of love. It entirely uses the melody from Harold Richardson & The Ticklers song, "Don't Fence Her In" and could be seen as a sequel.

 
On the MRS label, another single by Count Lasher's Calypso Quintet:

Water The Garden       b/w:
Trek To England

Thanks to Richard Noblett of London for these two scans.

"Trek To England" (which may have also been released as "Trek To London") features a memorable vocal melody and an arrangement dominated by acoustic guitar, joined by bamboo sax and banjo. The topic, immigration to England, is one that was common in the golden age. See, for example, "Sweet Jamaica" by Lord Lebby. The tone is melancholy, demonstrating Lasher's range. It's a fine track, but it has never been compiled on any LP or CD. Because it's a favorite of mine and is not in print, here is a song clip of Trek To England[Click here for notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.]

"Trek To England" became available on CD in 2013 on the collection called "Mento, Not Calypso".

"Water The Garden" was a much covered song. Lyrically, it's one of Lasher's extended double entendres. It features rural instrumentation with an interesting bamboo solo. It too can be heard on "Mento, Not Calypso".

  On the MRS label, a single by George Moxey And His Calypso Quintet featuring vocals by Count Lasher:

Man A Yard       b/w:
The Ole Man's Drive

Both sides were written by Chin's Calypso Sextet lyricist Everard Williams. Williams wrote a lot of mento songs for artists other than Chin's, but this is still something of a surprise, as Lasher was such a strong lyricist himself.  George Moxey and band play jazzy urban mento featuring piano and clarinet.

"The Ole Man's Drive" is another double entendre song about an old man's 'driving' being desirable. This side was included on the MRS LP Authentic Jamaican Calypsos, Volume 3. "Man A Yard" is another immigration song, in which broken promises of sending money home and fidelity are raised. This track was never compiled on a MRS LP or elsewhere.

At some point in the 1950s, Count Lasher joined Chin's Calypso Sextet as the only mento stars with a signature label, "Lasher Disc". Notice that in the writing credit on these releases, his name is spelled "Terrence Parkins", getting the last name right, but misspelling the first.


 
Courtesy of Robert Schoenfeld of Nighthawk Records and Roots Natty Roots fame, a single by Count Lasher and His Pepsters on the Lasher Disc label,

Natta Bay Road"      b/w:
Female Boxer

Natta Bay Road, Dan Neely explains, is a rendition of a Jamaican folk song, "Annatto Bay Road. Natta Bay Road is a fine, bracing rural track, with Lasher's vocals answered by backing vocalists and spirited banjo, bamboo, rumba box and hand drum playing. Because it's a favorite of mine and is not in print, here is a song clip of Natta Bay Road[Click here for notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.] "Female Boxer", is a more urban track, as Lasher recounts the time he went three rounds with the titular fighter. It's yet another elaborate double entendres story, a Lasher speciality.
 


In 2016, I heard from Beverley Ferron, daughter of Lasher's sax player on this song and others, Benjamin Ferron, who passed in March of 1994. She provided, with her mother's help, the following information:

My mom is 82 years old with perfect memory. She tells me my father was the only one who blow the bamboo sax that he made himself. She says he used to blow it down the wharf and then sell it and come back home and built another. I mentioned the name "Water the Garden" -- she says he is the one that blow the sax in that song. My father  played the sax with Count  Lasher up until late fifties. My father even travel to England during his time with Count Lasher. She recall hearing a song that was credited to Lasher but he was not the singer. She recalls a song about a duppy call Coby or Toby. Also one about a man who kill his wife in Portland, she is not sure if it got airplay but my father told her about it.
  
My father also blow sax in  Lord Power band ,one of  Lord Power song is call "
Penny Reel" not sure if it was made into a record which my dad was also a member of his band. He use go to the wharf on Monday mornings  with Lord Power the band leader to bring in the tourists. Unfortunately, no picture of my father playing the sax. Lord Power and his band  was in a movie that open at the Carib or Ward Theatre. (She is more leaning  towards Carib). In the movie they wore yellow shirts with lots banana print all over. Chances are that movie is nowhere to be found.


 

 

 

On the Lasher Disc label a single by Count Lasher and His Pepsters:

Jolly Jolly Shilling      b/w:
Count Lasher Rides 

Thanks to Richard Noblett of London for these two scans.
"Jolly Jolly Shilling" is relentlessly upbeat and a bit repetitious, sounding like a children's song. "Count Lasher Rides" is another ribald double entendre song, about riding at the racetrack.  A more polished version, titled "Lasher Rides Again" was later recorded, as seen below.

Courtesy of Allen Kaatz of the US, to the right
is the 45 RPM re-release of the b-side.

  Unfortunately in two pieces, a single by Count Lasher's Calypso Quintet on MRS:

The Saturday March         b/w:
Two Timing Lennie

Both sides give writing credit to the mysterious R. Thompson.


Rural mento this time around. "The Saturday March" observes woman walking about on King Street, dressed to the nines, hoping to attract a man. "Two Timing Lennie" is about the exploits and their consequences for an unfaithful married man. Both songs have a guitar/percussion opening that was better developed on "Natta Bay Road" and, especially, "Mango Time".

  Unfortunately in three pieces, a single by Count Lasher's Calypso Quintet on MRS:

Pick Your Choice         b/w:
Shepherd Rod

A writing credit to Lasher for each side of this rural mento single.


"Pick Your Choice" is about picking a girl to date and several types are described. The instrumentation matches the playful nature of the lyrics. "Shepherd Rod" is a double entendre song that lyrically and musically is a notch down from most of Lasher's other material from the 1950s.

Courtesy of Ulrich Stark of Germany, a 78 RPM single on the Kalypso label billed to the Porter Calypso Star Band.


Though absent from the credits, Urich confirms that it's indeed Count Lasher singing his two hits:

Talking Parrot     b/w
Doctor



 

Here is the same single, but released on a Kalypso 45. Again, oddly, the star singer is not mentioned on the label.

The comical tale "Talking Parrot" can be found on three CD compilations "Boogu Yagga Gal" (with lyrics), "Dip and Fall Back", "Rookumbine" and "Jamaica Mento - Authentic Recording" as well as on the Monogram LP, "Meet Me In Jamaica", though it's really not quite so good as to warrant that much attention. A cute tale of Lasher's dalliance with a married woman, complicated when her husband returns home and the parrot tips him off.

"Doctor" features classic rural mento instrumentation and an unusually catchy medley that suites Lasher's expressive voice. This song was also included on the Ritmo EP, "Calypsos From Jamaica". Because it's a favorite of mine and it's not in print, here is a song clip of Doctor[Click here for notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.]  The 45 RPM re-release of "Doctor can be seen to the right."

Dan Neely has doubts whether Doctor is in fact voiced by Count Lasher.

First off, it doesn't sound like him to me.  But listen to how our would-be "Lasher" pronounces the word "Dok-ter" in "Doctor."  That's a REALLY hard "R."  I am pretty sure that Lasher would have pronounced it "Doctah" (like the background singers do on the "Doctor" recording).  By way of comparison, listen to how Lasher pronounces "Water" in "Water the Garden."  Similar words linguistically, but you can clearly hear that Lasher there is saying "Wah-tuh," which would be more consistent with how I believe Lasher spoke (there are lots of words with R endings in that song that end with "uh," actually.   Off hand, I don't really know who that is singing but I'm sure it's not Lasher and doubt it's Hubert Porter. 

The solution to this mystery may be the record seen here.


 
A MRS 7" 45 RPM EP re-release of four tracks taken from the LP, "Calypsos From Jamaica, volume 4":
 

Count Lasher's "Breadfruit Season" and "Water the Garden"

backed with the two steel drum tracks of mento songs  by Brute Force Steel Band,  "Jumbie Jamboree" and "Wheel and Turn Me"

 

"Talking Parrot" again, but this time credited to Charlie Binger and His Calypsonians. A look at the fine print shows that this Kalypso single is indeed voiced by Count Lasher .
 

 

Thanks to Marcus Coester of Germany for this scan.

The scan of the b-side, "Cinemascope" comes from a different copy of the record.

 

 

Here's the same
record as a
45 RPM single.

What the heck is this? With the same two songs, at a glance it looks like the same single. But it's by Trinidad's Mighty Panther. A listen confirms that these are different performances, calypso rather than mento. Dan Neely provides a possible explanation below.

A single by Count Lasher and His Calypso Quintet, on Caribou, produced by Dada Tuari: "Slide Mongoose"  backed with "Miss Constance". Though mis-titled", "Slide Mongoose" is a great rendition of the old Jamaican folk/mento classic, "Sly Mongoose". It's rural mento, with rumba box, banjo, bamboo sax, acoustic guitar, percussion, and Lasher's fine voice. This track can be found on on both "Boogu Yagga Gal"  (with lyrics) and "Rookumbine" CD compilations.

 

"Miss Constance" is quite different. The instrumentation and arrangement are far more urban. Rather than a folk song, it's a Lasher original: a well crafted extended double entendre about Lasher hitting the track and racing the titular runner.


 

 As is true for the flip-side, the track can be heard and the lyrics read on
the CD compilation, "Boogu Yagga Gal".


 


  From the collection of Matthias Münchow (a.k.a. "Munchiesman", a reggae collector, DJ and journalist from Germany), on the Kalypso label, "Sally Brown" by the Porter Calypso Star Band.  They may have been better named after their lead singer, Count Lasher. A very rural style recording. Its b-side "Cinemascope" is discussed below.

 

  From the collection of Kenichiro Takeda of Japan, Count Lasher and Porter's Calypso Band's "Cinemascope" was originally a Trinidadian calypso song called "Widescreen", performed by Mighty Panther and others.

Kenichiro's attributing of "Widescreen" to Trinidadian origin attracted the attention of Dan Neely. His response, is as always, very informed and interesting:

"This was in the Boogu Yagga Gal CD booklet. Widescreen was published in Trinidad for the 1956 carnival season. I wonder about the authorship of this song because Panther and Dictator were in Jamaica for a LONG time in 1955 and for most of 56. In NONE of the news coverage is this song ever mentioned (although others songs are). Because it was when these Trinidadians were in Jamaican that Count Lasher recorded it, I wouldn't be surprised if "Widescreen" was just "borrowed" by Panther. "Water The Garden" is another song that Panther (or maybe Dictator, I can't remember) claims that in fact could have been Lasher's."

"Cinemascope" can be heard on the CD compilations "Boogu Yagga Gal" (with lyrics) and "Dip and Fall Back".


 

   On Caribou, produced by Dada Tuari, the Count Lasher and Charlie Binger's Six track, "Calabash" on both 78 and 45 RPM form. This is urban mento about visiting a carnival. This track was also included on the Boogu Yagga Gal CD compilation.

   On the Melotone label, a single by Count Lasher and His Band:

"The Man With The Tool"    b/w
"Final Test Decision".

The A-side is a double entendre song. The B-side is a cricket song.

The music is urban and similar in arrangement and instrumentation to such singles as "Talking Parrot", "Miss Constance", "Calabash", etc.
 

  Courtesy of Steve Brentford of The Netherlands, here is the original 78 release of Lasher's urban style hit, "Calypso Cha Cha Cha" on Caribou, produced by Dada Tuari, with its b-side, "Perseverance". It's credited to Count Lasha and his Calypsonians. 

Bob Marley and The Wailers recorded a clever cover of "Calypso Cha Cha Cha", as discussed on the Bob Marley & The Wailer and mento page. Because it is a favorite of mine and not in print, here is a song clip of Calypso Cha Cha Cha[Click here for notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.]

"Calypso Cha Cha" became available on CD in 2013 on the collection called "Mento, Not Calypso".

"Perseverance", a rollicking urban mento about how persistence in one work pays off. It can be heard on the CD collection  Soundman Shots.

Assorted rereleases on 45 of the above single on Caribou credit Count Lasher and His Orchestra and Count Lasher and his Calypsonians.

 

 


Credited to plain old Count Lasher is "Calypso Cha Cha Cha" released on a Hilltop Records "Calypso Oldies" 45. The recording is said to sound like it was mastered from a 78. The b-side is mislabeled as being "Shake Senora" by Lord Flea. Lasher's "Perseverance" is heard instead. 


 
On the Melotone label, both sides 45 RPM Count Lasher single: 

Lasher Rides Again    b/w:
Love Friction.

"Lasher Rides Again" is a remake of the song "Count Lasher Rides", seen above


 
  On the Caribou label, a 78 RPM single produced by Dada Tuari:

"Dalvey Gal - Parson" by
Count Lasher's Calypso Quintet             
backed with
"Calabash" by
Charlie Binger's Six, Count Lasher vocals.


 Both songs can be enjoyed, along with their lyrics
on the CD compilation, "Boogu Yagga Gal".

"Dalvey Gal - Parson" is a medley of two songs, the second of which borrows some lyrics from "Hog In Me Minty". It's a fine, tart rural mento track. 

Below are labels from a different 45 release of this single from the one pictured above:

Below is the same single rereleased as a Caribou 45. To the right is a variant that changes the band credit to Count Lasher with Orch.
 
 


 
  On the MRS label, a 78 RPM single (held together with Scotch Tape) by Count Lasher with His
Calypso Quintet:
"Perfect Love" backed with "Mother Bad Mine".

Although the two labels look like they came from different pressings, they are in fact from the same record.

This is a nice pair of rural songs. In "Mother Bad Mine" Lasher describes a woman that interferes with romance by making negative comments. "Perfect Love" celibrates the greatness of true love, and the stirrings of a proto-reggae beat are heard. The writing credit for both songs lists Lasher as T. Parkins.

    On the Chin's label, a single by Count Lasher's Calypso Quintet:

"Robusta Banana"         b/w
"Mo Bay China Man"

Below is a rerelease from a year later that retitled and recredited the same songs as:


 

"Jamaica Bananas"       b/w
"Don't Fool Roun' Me Gal".

"Robusta Banana"/"Jamaica Bananas" can be heard on Chin's CD 1 and is discussed a bit on the Chin's page here. "Mo Bay China Man"/"Don't Fool Roun' Me Gal"  can be hard on Chin's CD 2 and is discussed a bit here.

Here are the lyrics to Robusta Banana/Jamaica Bananas. As you will see, its a study of the varieties of bananas in Jamaica (Chinese banana being another name for the Cavendish, the common variety exported worldwide ), reminiscent of "Mango Time", with a touch of double entendre.

"Robusta Banana" a.k.a. "Jamaica Bananas", by Count Lasher:

I was selling green bananas along the street
A woman wanted a dozen, she said to eat
I gave her a hand of Lacatan
But she threw it back to me when it touched her hand

She say, "I don't want no Lacatan or Gros Michelle banana, hope you understand
Chinese banana, that one is worst.
Give me Robusta before I start to burst".

"Lacatan", she said, "is eatable
But if you have fe cook it, not durable
She say "I used to eat it day and night, but it couldn't satisfy my appetite". 

"Gros Michelle", she said, "i
s not too bad
People like it when it is cooked with shad
But I don't eat shad. I eat fresh fish
So I've got to have Robusta in my dish".

She said "Chinese banana I don't eat at all
because it's size -- it is much too small.
Moreover, have you put it in the pot,
it gets soft long before the pot gets hot".

She said the reason why she like the Robusta fruit
that kind of banana was born to suit
It was bigger and harder than the rest
and it can always stand the boiling test

That's why I don't want no
Lacatan or Gros Michelle banana, hope you understand
And if you don't want me to go astray
You got to give me Robusta every day.

Because it is a favorite of mine, here is a song clip of "Robusta Banana" a.k.a. "Jamaica Bananas" taken from a cleaner 78 than the one used for the Chin's CD.  [Click here for notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.]

Middle Period (1960s) Singles

Count Lasher was one of the golden-age stars who did not record hotel LPs in the 1960s. (Chin's Calypso Sextet was similar in this way, though they broke up before then.) Lasher did record a number of urban, calypso-y sides for producer Duke Reid in the 1960s, backed by Lyn Tate and The Baba Brooks Band  (as did Alerth Bedbasse, lead singer from Chin's), as well as for other producers. These 1960s tracks, to my ears, are substantially less interesting than the 1950s records by these artists. But you can make your own judgment, as several of the Duke Reid produced tracks (by Lasher and Bedasse) are collected on the readily available Trojan Calypso Box Set. Below are some of the labels from these releases.

  From the collection of Allen Kaatz of the US, on the Dutchess label, Count Lasher (with Lynn Taitt and the Baba Brooks Band):

Hooligans         b/w
Jump Independently.

The b-side was frequently compiled on CD collections.

From the collection of Matt Dinsmore of San Francisco, on the Dutchess label, Count Lasher (with Lynn Taitt and the Baba Brooks Band): "Bam Bam".

(It's backed with "I Want to Take a Chance" by The Slickers. Matt describes it as having an early rock steady sound.)

"Bam Bam" is not the same song as the Toots and The Maytals hit by the same name that was released at around the same time. But the chorus of both songs' share the titular refrain.  

Though produced by Sonia Pottinger, the instrumentation of the following records is in the same calypso-y style as the Duke Reid produced tracks above.

  A Count Lasher 45 RPM single on the PEP label:

Winnie The Whip      b/w:
Ring Ding '67 

The b-side's title gives us the probable release date.

 


 

  A Count Lasher 45 RPM single on the SEP label from 1966:

Dry Weather House      b/w:
Tribute To Sobers 

Both sides are credited to the great mento lyricist E. Williams.

"Dry Weather House" is a famous mento song of the 1950s. "Tribute To Sobers", a Cricket song, is otherwise unknown to me.

From the collection of Jeremy Collingwood of the UK, is another Count Lasher single on the SEP label:

"Peace Peace Peace" 
    backed with 
"Things Gone Up"

Thanks to Jeremy, I can tell you that "Peace Peace Peace" is an anti-violence song that features a lilting guitar based backing with a calypso rhythm and Lasher's typically fine

vocals. "Things Gone Up" is a remake of his golden age track, as seen above. It retains the lead clarinet of the original, but substitutes the guitar of the flipside for banjo.

Also from this era, Count Lasher with Lyn Taitt and The Baba Brooks Band  recorded the standard, "The Weed (aka Man Pyabba)". This track can be heard on a the Treasure Isle CD, "Jump Up Calypso". Dan from Manchester in the UK has taken a crack at transcribing this wordy song.

"The Weed (aka Man Pyabba)" traditional, as performed by Count Lasher:

One day I met an old lady selling
And I wanted something to eat
I thought she had bananas oranges and pears
But I took back when we meet She had a basket full of plenty[?] to eat
And was calling like she was mad I can't remember all that she called
But these were a few she had

She had Man Pyabba
Woman Pyabba
Tomtom Callback and Lemon Grass
Minny Root Gully Root Granny Back Bone
Deadman getup and lebanter? Rope
Coolie Bitters Karina Bush
And the old Compellance Weed
Sweet Boom Cow Tongue
And the Granny Cracks Cracks
Belly Full and the Guzzu Weed

She had Cutta
Pemumma?
Fill up tebuppa?
Chinky? Strong back
Rock and tirry?
Genie Roots Siperilla
Madame Fate
and the Ducky Batty
Burbine Pitweed
Duckweed
Me Sister Repeat
And the Bamber Root
Dibbydibby Mill feed
And the Ackim Bush
And the one they call Puss in Boot

She had Rango
Dash along Quarker Bush
Jacob Lead and the Alligator Weed
Mandinga Pustly and Jackna Bush
The Chickanit and the Guinean Weed
Bimzagga the Devil Horse Whip
And the late Revival Weed
The only one she didn't have
Was the wicked Ganja Weed

I said to her now dear lady
Weeds are good I understand
But weeds don't have a meaning
To any hungry man
If you had bananas yam and peas
I would a happy when we meet
So go back home with all your weed
And bring something to eat

Instead of Man Pyabba
Woman Pyabba
Tomtom Callback and Lemon Grass
Minny Root Gully Root Granny Back Bone
Deadman getup and lebanter? Rope
Coolie Bitters Karina Bush
And the old Compellance Weed
Sweet Boom Cow Tongue
And the Granny Cracks Cracks
Belly Full and the Guzzu Weed

Here is an odd record, not released on a commercial label, but rather, "Taken from the sound track of 'The West Indies'. Another BIS television film prepared specially for U.S. distribution. Produced by BIS Radio Television Division":


"The Growth Of Federation
A song About The Caribbean Federation by

Count Lasher and His Jamaican Calypso Band"

Its to the melody of Lasher's "Things Gone Up".

The b-side label is blank and the grooves play several minutes of silence.

 

Live appearances

The below advertisements from The Daily Gleaner, ranging from 1954 to 1969, show what a prolific live performer Count Lasher was and how diverse the venues were. This is likely just a small sampling of Lasher's live work.

June 3, 1956

Lasher is the headliner for a night
of music and a movie double feature.

April 15, 1957

This time, opening for visiting Trinidadian calypsonian Lord Pretender and a movie double feature.

April 17, 1964

At a national bonds rally in Port
Maria. Also on the bill is Louise Bennett
and others.

November 15, 1957

Count Lasher and Mapletoft Poulle share entertainment duties at the JSPCA (Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) ball at Trafalgar Park.

December 12, 1969

Headlining a party at Bailey's Beach

February 26, 1963

Co-headlining with vibraphone player Lennie Hibbert at The Myrtle Bank Hotel's Caribbean Capers variety show.

April 20, 1957

It's a Federated Calypso Clash at the Ward theater, pitting Lord Pretender and Lord Melody of Trinidad against Count Lasher and Lord Messam of Jamaica. Jamaican jazz trumpet player Sonny Bradshaw and a comedian are also on the bill for this Easter midnight show.

 

December 31, 1954

At the Silver Slipper club, Count Lasher and His Calypsos.

This was just one of many mento and jazz options that New Year's Eve, see the Mento and Jazz page.

.

April 15, 1957

At Wards theater, the "Hot Chocolate and Spic[e]" variety show that also included Silver Seas Trio and Baba Motta and His All Stars.

 

January 13, 1967

Count Lasher and His Royal Calypsonians
to perform at Antons Lounge.

November 12, 1956

At the Ritz theater, as part of the Ranny Williams Show, which also included Lord Fly, a host of others and a movie double feature. 

November 19, 1959 and
November 18, 1961

Lasher is the entertainment at two swim meets.

 

Ska

I was surprised to find this record in the summer of 2005, as I wasn't previously aware that Count Lasher had recorded any ska. But the single below is indeed ska. It's released on the Melotone label. Though this record is not listed in Roots Knotty Roots, RKR does describe a number of Melotone records being a produced by Lasher and released in 1964. But Roots Knotty Roots is not definitive, but instead an impressive compendium of the known, assumed and commonly believed. As such, though the best reference available on Jamaican singles, it does little to help date this interesting and obscure disc.

Both tracks sounds like a very early ska, but definitely ska. It would be R&B is not for the off beats being insistently emphasized by syncopated piano and sax. Those two instruments dominate the sound that also includes bass and drums, and of course, Lasher's vocals. The sax, though probably a professional instrument is played in a way that sounds like a bamboo sax.

  "Fish and Ackee" celebrates this dish above all other Jamaican dishes. "... green banana can wait until mañana, Lasher him want Fish and Ackee now."

"Please Louise" is a love song, as Lasher asks Louise for "one more squeeze".

1970s Reggae Singles

In 1974, Lasher recorded a number of reggae sides, produced by Coxsone Dodd. Some of these are discussed below. (Thanks to Olivier Albot of France for the last 4 tracks and to Laurent Pfeiffer and Olivier for their scans.)

"A Change Me Mind" b/w "Ethiopian (Ver.)" on the Bongo Man starts as a reggae cover of Lord Lebby's "Etheopia". Then, rather jarringly, the notion of Ethiopia as a paradise is rejected as "a lie", and concludes that it "is useless and very senseless to think of Ethiopia". "Tell mankind, I change me mind about Ethiopia". Lasher chooses instead to reside in Jamaica, where he can enjoy brotherhood, get fat, and "I die there, any day, my duppy won't be going away".

 

 

"Time To Sow" b/w "Dub Time" on the Money Disc label shows that, not surprisingly, Lasher's vocals could fit reggae just fine, with lyrics replete with folk wisdom, as Lasher advocates returning to the country.

 

 

"Clean Face Rasta" b/w "Rasta Dub" on the Bongo Man label has Lasher again in fine voice effortlessly singing reggae and adopting to reggae subject matter. Lasher reflects on a rasta who talks a good game, but whose devotion is suspect. Though all reggae, this track is reminiscent of Lasher's great mento track, "Sam Fi Man."

 

"Font Hill Duppy" b/w "Duppy Dub" on the Bongo Man label does not give Lasher a backing track worthy of his interesting ghost tale.

"Maintenance" is a faithful cover of the popular song originally recorded by the obscure Joseph Clemendore (Cobra Man),  as heard on the 1950s LP, "MRS - Authentic Jamaican Calypsos, volume 3". The subject matter (a problem well covered throughout mento, ska and reggae) suits Lasher well. He is being sued for child support for a baby that clearly isn't his. For example, his girl ("I'm black, you think, and she is closely related to ink") delivers a white baby and tells Lasher it's his, it's just that she drank too much Milk of Magnesia when

she was pregnant. The frustrated "father" sings "I ain't paying, I ain't paying, put me in jail if you like, I ain't paying". Later he explains, "For me to mind a child, well you have to know, that the scamp must be born singing calypso". A bouncy reggae backing is well ridden by Lasher. The b-side ("Part Three") is, as on all these Bongo Man 45s, a dub version.
 

"Water The Garden" b/w "Tenor In The Garden (with Tommy McCook") on the Sight and Sound label really isn't reggae. It's an electro calypso kind of thing that sounds rather cheap, wasting Lasher's faster paced remake of one of his mento hits. To add to the disappointment, there really isn't any extra Tommy McCook sax on the b-side. Perhaps it's fitting that the label photo is out of focus.

More Count Lasher Tracks

A number of Count Lasher songs can be easily acquired today. Though not all of his best tracks are available yet, there really is no such a thing as a bad Count Lasher track.

 

email me at:
mike@mentomusic.com

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