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Ultimate Guide To Great Reggae",
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Page last revised: 5/12/18
You may have noticed Dr. Daniel T. Neely's name and contributions all over this site. Dan is an ethnomusicologist who has been studying mento music since 1998. Since then, he has spent more than a year living and working in Jamaica (including a 2002-2003 Fulbright Grant), he has interviewed nearly 100 musicians, politicians and entertainers with intimate knowledge of mento's past and contemporary moment, and he has traveled to libraries throughout the US and UK with important Jamaican holdings in putting together his dissertation, "Mento, Jamaica's Original Music": Development, Tourism and the Nationalist Frame." Defended in November 2007, Dr. Neely's dissertation is the first comprehensive investigation of mento music's history and development.
In addition to presenting his work at academic conferences around the world, he has published journalistic articles in The Beat magazine (notably, a piece on mento called "Long Time Gal – Mento is Back"), in the Jamaica Observer newspaper and in Global Rhythm magazine. He is also published in several academic publications, including Caribbean Studies Journal, Ethnomusicology, the Yearbook for Traditional Music, Nieuwe West-Indische Gids, the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music and more. His article "Calling All Singers, Musicians and Speechmakers : Mento Aesthetics and Jamaica's Early Recording Industry" appeared in Caribbean Quarterly in 2007 (53/4). An article he co-authored with Ken Bilby about the quadrille and set dancing called “The English-Speaking Caribbean: Re-Embodying the Colonial Ballroom” appeared in Creolizing Contradance in the Caribbean (Temple University Press). He has worked closely with several mento bands (including the Jolly Boys and the Blue Glaze Mento Band) and has consulted on several films. http://danieltneely.com/
Nighthawk Records crucial database, Roots Knotty Roots lists every 45 and 78 RPM single to come out of Jamaica, including many mento releases. I've used this as the source for release dates of songs and to determine how prolific artists were. Co-author Robert Schoenfeld has contributed scans and clips to this site. Roots Knotty Roots is available for purchase in paper or software form at http://www.nghthwk.com/rkr/. The book includes forty mento label scans on the inside covers.
Calypso researcher Ray Funk of Fairbanks, Alaska publishes The Kaiso Newsletter, with the latest news on calypso as well as background on classic calypsos. They can be seen online at http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/kaiso.htm.
Ray was also instrumental in the creation of the highly recommended web site "Calypso: A World Music" ( http://www.calypsoworld.org). It includes a pages on Jamaican calypso, a.k.a. mento, filled with great photos, at http://www.calypsoworld.org/noflash/cla-2.htm, as well as a page that gives the calypso origins of songs that are part of the mento repertoire: "Brown Skin Gal", "Love, Love Alone", "Man Smart, Woman Smarter", "Mary Ann", "Matilda", "Shame and Scandal in the Family", "Yellow Bird", and "Zombie Jamboree" at http://www.calypsoworld.org/noflash/songs.htm.
Drum Circle is a unique web site that focuses on Jamaican drum traditions. It can see at: http://www.drumcircleonline.com/
The Secret Museum of The Air is a radio program that showcases music that was released on 78 RPM records. Visit http://wfmu.org/playlists/SM and you will see that they did a 60 minute show on mento that can be streamed via the Real audio player at http://wfmu.org/listen.ram?show=2301. (If it will not play, you will have to download the codec for the earlier version of the Real file format.) This is a good way to hear full tracks by Lord Composer, Lord Fly, Lord Lebby, Denzil Laing, Lord Power, Arthur Knibbs, Edric Connor and others, as well as a few calypso songs.
Andre Tapir has a page of discographies for reggae labels at http://www.xs4all.nl/~tapirs/. Included is a discography for the Kalypso label and more.
Jamaicans.com has a a page on the "History of Jamaican Music: From Folk to Mento", with clips at http://www.jamaicans.com/music/folk.htm.
The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission's 2001 National Mento Band Competition web page can be seen at http://www.jcdc.org.jm/mento_results.htm.
There's a nice site promoting Stanley Beckford's "Plays Mento"
release, with audio clips, etc:
There is also a site with a Stanley Beckford biography at http://www.french-music.org/scr_artist.php?artist_id=21940.
The Downbeat Special: Tribute to Studio One site by Studio One expert Rob Chapman is a great site covering Studio One releases. It includes a comprehensive section on the Hiltonaires, at http://www.downbeat-special.co.uk/.
Kenichiro Takeda of Japan maintains a web site on exotic music. It includes a page about mento that includes label scans, song clips and text mostly in Japanese at http://www8.plala.or.jp/muzik/.
The Calypso Archives at http://www.calypsoarchives.co.uk/ is all about mento's first cousin. There are references to Jamaican recording throughout this site, described as Jamaican calypso, rather than as mento, or Jamaican folk.
For the origin and the lyrics of the song Barji/Bargie Composer/Magic Composer, see http://www.marcelloworld.org/texts/bilby.html
A few mento and a host of ska and reggae label scans can be seen at jamaicanlabelart.com.
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