Posted by : Monkey SKA lunes, 24 de agosto de 2015

01 Frankenstein
02 Watermelon Man
03 Last Night
04 Jamaica Ska
05 Dumplin’s
06 Bata Cha Cha Cha
07 Dragon’s Paradise
08 From Russia With Love
09 Goldfinger
10 Ol’ Man River
11 Soul Ska
12 Rock Steady
13 Slow Run
14 Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey (Version)
15 Squeeze Up (Part 2)
16 Apache
17 Reggae Makossa
18 We Five
19 Hot Reggay
20 Who-Dun-It


Byron Lee—

IN 1964, at the height of the ska craze, Edward Seaga, Jamaica’s minister of social welfare and economic development, invited Byron Lee and the Dragonaires (BL&D) to his West Kingston constituency to revel in a sound that was rocking Kingston’s clubs.

“Byron, myself and Ken Lazarus went down there and he (Seaga) said ‘listen to this’. We heard these guys making amazing music,” recalled BL&D lead singer Keith Lyn.

That “amazing music” was ska. The West Kingston trip inspired Lazarus and Lyn to write Jamaican Ska, which remains one of the band’s biggest hits.

It is one of 20 songs on Uptown Top Ranking, an album to be released June 9 by VP Records. The set revisits some of BL&D’s ska, rocksteady and reggae recordings.

Because of its longstanding ties to Carnival in the Eastern Caribbean, the band is usually associated with calypso and soca, sounds synonymous with that region.

But on Uptown Top Ranking, Lee and the Dragonaires show their versatility with Dumplings (their first hit song), Jamaican Ska, Soul Ska, Rocksteady, Hot Reggay and Don’t Call me Nigger, Whitey.

As the album’s title suggests, BL&D were an uptown band whose audience was distinctly middle-class. Because of that tag, Lyn believes they never got their due from the masses, especially as a ska act.

“Jamaican Ska was the first original ska hit, but we were never popular with the downtown crowd as they called them, so we never really got that respect,” he said.

To help promote the ska beat and dance, Seaga took BL&D and a teenaged Jimmy Cliff to the World’s Fair in New York City in 1964.


Critics argued that The Skatalites, ska’s greatest exponents, should have made the trip.

Lee formed the Dragonaires at St George’s College in the early 1950s. They made their name as a show band before hitting with the

Seaga-produced Dumplings in 1959.

The band enjoyed a chart revival during the 1980s when Lee launched the successful Jamaica Carnival. Songs like Tiney Winey and Dancehall Soca helped introduce BL&D to a new generation.

Lee died in November 2008 at age 73.

By Howard Campbell—

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