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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  
Later
artists:
 The Jolly Boys    Stanley Beckford    The Hiltonaires   Lord Antics 
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More Favorite Songs Clips

 

Page last revised: 7/17/11

 

This page covers mento artists that do not have a separate page on this site. Clips from my favorite mento songs by these various artists are included if the recording is out of print. If the recording is in print, you'll find a link on how to purchase the track. [Click here for notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.] 

The pages for individual artist also have song clips.


Other Golden Age Artists and Favorite Song Clips

Boysie Grant with Reynolds Calypso Clippers:

Noisy Spring
Sweet Charlie; Mattie Rag; Nobody's Business  What to buy 

Though not a prolific artist, the handful of tracks (all recorded by Stanley Motta for his MRS label) were of high quality. Noisy Spring's ribald predicament is especially funny because Boysie is completely mortified by the possibility that someone might think they are having sex, when they are not. It's a great track with very strong banjo and drum solos. The banjo player, Eddie Brown, is credited with writing the song on the LP, MRS - Calypsos From Jamaica, volume 3.  The label from the original 78 RPM single can be seen here.

Recording a medley of common mento songs a common practice during mento's golden age. Sweet Charlie; Mattie Rag; Nobody's Business puts together three songs from mento repertoire in an excellent medley.



George Moxey & His Calypso Quintet (vocals by Hubert Porter):

Dry Weather House  What to buy 
Monkey Talk  What to buy 

Moxey's band backed Count Lasher as well as Hubert Porter, always on the MRS label. Porter did not  record many songs.

Dry Weather House and Monkey Talk are  strong dance-band style renditions of these often performed mento songs, featuring the smooth vocals of Hubert Porter. Both of these tracks have been covered by major reggae acts. (See the Covers and Wailers pages.) Both were written by the great mento song writer E. F. Williams.



Laurel Aitken:

Nebuchnezer What to buy

Cuban born Laurel Aitken has a career who's span and breadth matched that of Lord Tanamo. Spanning mento, R&B, ska and reggae, he recorded hundreds of songs from the mid-50s through the start of the 1980s.  Laurel has his own brand of mento featuring his distinctive vocals, sax, bass, electric guitar, hand percussion and something of a calypso rhythm with traces of R&B

His 1957 recording, Nebuchnezer, is essentially the same song as Lord Flea's Naughty Little Flea, but lyrically, Laurel replaces Flea's naughtiness with biblically theme lyrics. Aiken recorded a number of mento tracks with biblical themes, perhaps originating this practice that would later become so common in reggae. Label scans from the original single release can be seen here.


Lord Composer and His Silver Seas Hotel Orchestra:

Gal A Gully; Matilda   What to buy
Hill & Gully Ride; Mandiville Road
  What to buy  What to buy

This very popular pair of two-song medleys are early mento classics. Found on either side of a MRS 78 RPM single, they collect four Jamaican folk songs, set to the same music. But Composer's choice of material, strong keening vocal and tight instrumentation featuring virtuoso fife solos make these tracks an inexhaustible source of enjoyment. These tracks appeared on several different 1950s mento compilation albums. But, mysteriously, Composer never recorded anything that sounded like these sides. In fact, no one did, and these tracks stand unique in mento. Incidentally, in lieu of authorship, the label describes these folk songs as "Jamaican digging songs".  Label scans from the original single release can be seen here.

There was not a great deal of follow up from Lord Composer. And none if it sounded like the burning, single above. He appeared on a single backed by Chin's Calypso Sextet, as seen here and another single side on MRS  as seen here. He also recorded a single on the Kalypso label in the 1960s (probably), as see here and one with Sugar Belly as seen here. In 1968, he recorded a single for Studio One, as seen here. He also recorded an LP worth of material that can be bought today. It's interesting to note that in spite of his chosen name, this artist composed very few of the songs he recorded!

From The Daily Gleaner
November 26, 1954.
Don't argue!


Lord Power:

Penny Reel  What to buy
Mambo La-La What to buy

Lord Power recorded more than a dozen tracks in the 1950s for Stanley Motta and Duke Reid. In the late 1960s, he recorded a few more for Bunny Lee (billed as Calypso Joe) and Coxsone Dodd.

Penny Reel, produced by Duke Reid, was released on a 78 RPM single in 1958 or 1959. This mento version of a Jamaican folk song it is said to be the very first release on Trojan . (The label for this 78 RPM single can be seen on the More Golden Age Single Scans page, as can a reissue on a Caribou 45 RPM single.) It's a wild and rollicking track (as was usually the case with Lord Power), set apart by the use of electric guitar. This song provided the best ska cover of a mento song, when Eric 'Monty' Morris recorded it for Treasure Isle in 1964.

Mambo La-La is an entertaining near-instrumental, a few notches down from Power's typical frenzy. A Caribbean dance craze never passed without being commemorated in at least one mento song.


Monty Reynolds and His Silver Seas Orchestra:

This Long Time Gal a Never See You  What to buy  What to buy 

An enjoyable recording of this Jamaican folk song about seeing someone you haven't in a long time. No banjo, but strong acoustic guitar, hand drum and a pleasing vocal are featured in this rural mento. Vocals and guitar are by Eddie Brown who played great banjo for Boysie Grant with Reynolds Calypso Band and great acoustic guitar for the middle period Silver Seas calypso band.  Though not prolific, MRS released an entire 10" album by Monty Reynolds and His Silver Seas Orchestra  as the fifth and final in the series of "All Jamaican Calypsos".


Robin Plunket and the Shaw Park Calypso Band

Shaw Park Blues

Robin Plunket is an obscure singer and the Shaw Park Calypso Band is only slightly less obscure. Around the same time that Lord Lebby's Etheopia was released, so was this song with the same melody. But they couldn't be more different lyrically!  Etheopia's  spirituality and back to Africa theme is discussed above. In contrast, Shaw Park Blues is such an over-the-top commercial for the Shaw Park Hotel, it's quite funny in its shamelessness. The label for this MRS 78 RPM single can be seen on the More Golden Age Single Scans page, but it does not indicate who the author is, so I'll assume it was vocalist Robin Plunket. The instrumentation is very enjoyable, featuring an unusually dreamy sounding banjo. The lyrics are below:

"Shaw Park Blues", by Robin Plunket (?):

Come on now everybody
listen to the Shaw Park blues
Tourists and everybody,
this is the place for you

Once you come here,
you'll want to live here,
or die here
It is so good and a pleasure to stay at Shaw Park

Since Shaw Park has been operating
its already made its fame
The Service in Shaw Park hotel
is the best you can ever find
You'll love the scenery, the pretty gardens, the dining room, the better food,
   and at the bar, the better drink; you must enjoy them 

Now Shaw Park is elevated 500 feet above the sea,
Itís located near the scenery, best in its vicinity
The royal family stayed at Shaw Park
well it's so restful and so peaceful that you don't need to abdicate to stay at Shaw Park 

                                                                     [Abdicate? See below.]

Take Her To Jamaica

A touristy song, no doubt, but far from mundane because of the unusual banjo sound. Just how many incredible banjo players were active in Jamaica in the 1950s? The playing is accomplished and the overall sound is unique. Perhaps the sound is produced by mandolin rather than banjo. 


unknown artists: 

Island in the Sun
Maryann

Love (and Love Alone)  What to buy

Good versions of the popular mento songs Maryann and Island In The Sun, but the artist is unknown. For the Trinidadian origin of Maryann see Ray Funk's Calypso World web site at:   http://www.calypsoworld.org/noflash/songs-7.htm.

Love (and Love Alone) is the story of King Edward of England, who abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry a commoner from America. Great vocals, banjo and percussion, very similar in sound to the great Kalypso singles by Lord Lebby.  Overall, it sounds like acoustic reggae, but it was recorded decades before there was such a thing as reggae!  Yet no one is sure who the performer of this classic track is! Well worth the price of the inexpensive Valmark CD. The lyrics are below. Ray Funk was kind enough to identify this song as originally having been recorded by the calypsonian Caresser in 1937, entitled "King Edward the VIII" (and many times since).

"Love (and Love Alone)",  by unknown

It's love and love
that caused King Edward to leave the throne

Now I'm ?tell? ?you? duke you never talk
that he gave the throne to the Duke of York

You can take my money and take my gold
but give me the gal from Baltimore

Now in the morning she have him bacon and toast
and in the evening she gave him Simpson's roast

I don't know what Miss Simpson got in her bone
that cause a king to give up a throne

Other Middle Period Artists and Favorite Songs Clips

Baba Motta and His Orchestra:

Wheel and Turn Me
Solas Market
Linstead Market
She Pon Top

Pianist and band leader Baba Motta was perhaps the jazziest musician of mento's golden-age. Motta's orchestra can be heard fronting a variety of vocalists in a variety of 78 RPM singles as well as being heavily featured on the MRS albums of the time.

These mento-jazz tracks come from his "Jamaican Carnival at The Myrtle Bank" mid-period hotel album.  Though primarily jazz, the songs and rhythms on these tracks are mento, a fusion that has been recorded as early as the 1920s. More on this LP can be seen on the More Middle Period Album Scans page.


Goldenaires:

Mambo No. 5

Good instrumental rural mento. For more on the LP this track came from, visit the More Middle Period Album Scans page.


Happy Smilers:

Zombie Jamboree

Sparse instrumentation and fine vocals and harmonies define the sound of The Happy Smilers. For more on this band and the LP, "The Plantation Inn" that this clip was drawn from, visit the More Middle Period Album Scans page.


 

King Barou:

Calypso Cha Cha

An excellent track with a strong rhythm and a memorable banjo refrain and great interplay between banjo and guitar. The banjo plays a rippling rhythm at speeds not typically heard in mento. This is a different song from the Count Lasher hit from which Barou borrows the title. Also borrowed (from Count Sticky's recording "Calypso Ten") is part of the verse in which Barou counts up from "Calypso one, calypso two...".

Barou recorded a total of 4 tracks for Coxsone Dodd's Port-O-Jam label. But the other 3 did not quite match the excitement of this track. Scans of these releases can be seen on the More Middle Period Single Scans page.


Silver Seas:

Charley's Cow
Daphne Walking

Charlie's Cow is a song that is also known as Matty Rag. This fine rendition is driven by acoustic guitar, great vocals (with Hubert Porter singling lead) a good story and a nice guitar solo. Below are the lyrics, transcribed courtesy of Sunnie De Pass of London (http://www.singit.org.uk/).

Mama, Mama dem ketch Papa
Dem ketch him down a mango walk
And if I didnít run they would catch me too
so sing sweet song and play guitar

Wai, Oi, Papa gone
Wai, Oh, Papa gone

If I didnít run they would catch me too,
So sing sweet song and play guitar

You should a seen how policeman run him down
And jump on him and hold him down
Dem say he steal Mas Charley cow
And dem gone wid him to prison now

Wai, Oi, Papa gone
Wai, Oh, Papa gone

Dem say he steal Mas Charley cow
And dem gone wid him to prison now

Him say to tell you not to cry
For Mas Charlie did tell a lie
The cow was loose and he took it to pound
Aní de beast got away adn caní be found

Wai, Oi, Papa gone
Wai, Oh, Papa gone

He say to tell you not to cry
For Mas Charlie did tell a lie

One day one day I will find a way
To make that lying Charley pay
Me send to Papa gone a jail
But I remain aní I will not fail

Wai, Oi, Papa gone
Wai, Oh, Papa gone

One day one day I will find a way
To make that lying Charley pay

Mama, Mama, the dog barking hard
At someting in de next door yard
Someting in dere, I betta see
What pushing dwon that coffee tree

Oooh, Ooooh, now I know
Look Mama, its Charleyís Cow

De cow dinít really stray too far
so sing sweet song and play guitar

 

Daphne Walking, like the previous song, is a cover from mento's golden age. Another strong vocal, this time with Eddie Brown singing lead. For more on this group, see the More Middle Period Album Scans page.

Other Mento Resurgence Artists and Favorite Songs Clips

Humming Birds:

Born Jamaican
Island in the West Indies

See the More Resurgence CD Scans page for more on the Humming Birds eponymous CD.  

The pages on individual artist also have song clips, as does the What Is Mento and the Mento and Jazz pages.

 

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mike@mentomusic.com

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