Gabriel; When 2 Tone ruled England I was born in Sweden so I have some years of work to replace what I have missed.
Reggae was very hot in Sweden in the summer of 1993 I think this was the time when a compilation LP called Absolute Reggae was released. The songs were Inner Circle »Sweat (a la la la long)«, Steve Kekana »Raising my family« and Bill Lovelady »One more reggae for the road«. You get the point? After that short summer fling it took about 3 years til 1996/97 when a mate borrowed me a set of 4 cd's with tunes from the 2 Tone era. I was hooked!
At that time I was living in a small town in the middle of Sweden (population 10 000) and there was no decent record stores. Internet was something new and hot but having a dial-up connection of 28. 8 kbps I could'nt download more than one mp3 per day or so. I had to order cd's via the post from a big retailer. The collection grew but it was mainly 2 Tone and 3rd wave skapunk that was hot for me. I remember chatting with some guys from Hawaii on the Internet and got a lot more tip-offs on interesting bands. But in a year or so I had switched to mainly original ska.
In 1999 I moved to the capital Stockholm to study. And all of a sudden there was A LOT record stores to visit and poke around in. My record collection grew and had grown ever since.
Steve The Don; It would be late 1971, all of my friends were into »progressive« music it left me cold alternatives seemed to be »Tamla Motown« or just »POP« so then I heard »Moon Hop« by Derrick Morgan I realised there was something else around. At that time reggae was for me the true »underground« music, I couldn't hear it on the radio, I couldn't read about it in the music press & I couldn't buy it it normal record shops »We only stock it if its in the charts« was the reply when ever I asked for a record (How does it get there in the first place if you don't sell it ) so I used to buy all the music I could from second hand shops, here's a list of the first 10 singles I bought
1 Moon Hop - Derrick Morgan
2 Skinhead Moonstomp - Symarip
3 Pickney Gal - Desmond Dekker
4 A Change Is Going To Come - The Heptones
5 Double Barrel - Dave & Ansil Collins
6 I Hear Music - Claude Sang
7 School Girls - The Heptones
8 Live Good - The Ethiopians
9 Mercy Mr Percy - The Termites
10 Really Now - The Dreamlets
all bought second hand without hearing them first, looking through my list it looks like the first record I bought which wasn't secondhand was »The Trojan Story « triple Lp which I had to order from a record shop
Mr. G; I'd been into 2 Tone and had seen Bob Marley's funeral on the news and had a vague idea what reggae was(I had some mates whose older brothers and sisters played it but had never paid it much attention) I tuned into a Birmingham radio station one night and heard some Eek A Mouse, Lone Ranger, Michigan & Smiley, et al, these guys with funny lyrics that went bong-diddley-bong-ribbit-oink-riiiiiiight! and that was that. I started going into Birmingham city centre and buying a couple of 12" discos a week with the money I was earning from helping out on a milk round. I was 13, almost 14, and it was the start of a 25 year long journey so far.
How do you build up your collections. Buying oldies, or CDs? and was it very difficult?
Gabriel; Living in Sweden make records buying more difficult than living in the UK I presume. Over here it’s hard or almost impossible to find oldies but the range of represses is fair anyway in Stockholm and the other larger cities. That’s why I started to buy a lot of CDs some 10 years ago. That was the only chance for me to find my type of music (ska, rocksteady, early reggae) in Sweden. But my interest in CDs began to fall and it was getting easier to find represses so I switched over to vinyl. That was 5-10 years ago and I had moved to Stockholm and started to dig the boxes in the second hand stores here. I occasionally found a original Trojan 45 or a Tighten Up LP but the price here in Sweden for the original Trojan LPs are ridicules. And then, I found eBay! All of a sudden it was like being in the UK (I think) and I found so many new artists, songs, labels and releases just over a night. So in modern time, the last 3-5 years, I buy a lot on eBay. But my total knowledge for Jamaican music has opened up my eyes so now my search spectrum is extra wide when going to a record store or a record fair. When visiting a new city the record stores are a must!
But as I said, living in Sweden is hard for a record collector. I love to buy original 45’s but that’s what I play when I DJ. But for the 10 years I’ve been hooked of Jamaican music I think I’ve seen a total of 5-10 original Blue Beat 45’s in Sweden. Once a year, hehe.
Steve The Don; I've had to rely on buying from lists for most of the time as there have been no local sources for music, now of course as for most things the only regular source is the internet. I did have a few shops that I used to visit as I travelled around the UK but most of them have gone now along with most of the bargains
Mr. G; 80% of my collection was built up between 1989 and 1994 when I was earning a good wage and would spend every spare penny after rent, food and bills on music. Most months I'd spend around 300 to 500 quid. Back then tunes weren't dirt cheap like in the 70s but they
were still cheap enough. Tunes for 5 to 10 quid that are worth ten times that now. I regret not picking up roots things like George Dudley's »Gates Of Zion« 12 on original press that one dealer was selling in an old list for just a tenner! I was more interested in ska, rocksteady and 80s dancehall at the time and got heavily into the 70s roots thing a couple of years later. Collecting wasn't as difficult as it is now where, with the internet boom, you have half the world bidding against you on EBay even for tricky to find repress bumping a 4 or 5 quid tune up to 10 or 15 quid in some cases!! The true value of a record has been lost now with so many frenzied »bidding wars« going on.
Since about 1995 I've been buying lots of the reissue CDs that come out on labels like Blood & Fire, Pressure Sounds, Trojan, Auralux, etc. In fact, the most exciting development in reggae for us old timers at the moment is that Greensleeves are currently reissuing some of their late 70s and early 80s albums with extra tracks on!
So when did you get on the internet? And what was you looking for when you got on it, info, music, etc?
Gabriel; It was back in spring 1996 I think. I had a fling with 2 Tone and faster American ska so I hung out at some sort of American chat forum with my lousy English and tried to overhear any new band names to search the internet for. I read pretty much about ska, skinheads and the Jamaican musical culture on the Internet the first years. I really had a thirst for knowledge and Internet was my teacher.
Steve The Don; I think it was late 1999 I was of course looking for records & at first was very successful on ebay grabbing quite a few bargains, I had many friends who had told me of all the music available and was very sceptical at first thinking that my tastes were too obscure to find any thing I would like but as it turned out I have bought loads of tunes from dealers all over the world.
Mr. G; I got onto the internet in 1998, I just used it at first to send e-mails to family and friends and to check the news. Then I took night classes in computer software called an ECDL and after that I knew exactly how to find stuff and joined all the relevant forums. I use it now to buy music, chat to mates and find out information on music. I also have my podcast! It's been a Godsend for sure.
So when you got broadband and with all the old music coming out, did you think that a lot of good stuff was being overlooked or was it something else that made you want to make these selections/compilations?
Gabriel; I have had broadband since 1999 and started to heavily download all ska I came across. But after a while if just felt that it was the same tunes over and over again. I love “Rub up, push up” and “Guns of Navarone” but not on EVERY compilation. It was getting boring. I started to rip my own vinyl collection to mp3s and burn my own CDs so I could have my vinyl collection in my CD walkman (and later my mp3-player). I switched music with my friends and my personal collection grown insanely. Then some years ago I found Blood and Fire and some guys who was making some nice collections and I thought that perhaps I could do the same to make people here something different and odd than the same old ska tunes over and over again. I remember being a bit scared the first time compiling for the BAF people, what would they say? But soon I got this thought »Why not start to compile all English record labels from the 60ies?« It has been hard for me to find my 30 or so Blue Beat 45’s and I thought that if it’s that hard for everyone, why now help each other to find new unheard music? I use to say that the music has gave me so much love so I just have to spread it to others in hope that they get the same amount of love.
Steve The Don; I still make these compilations for MYSELF, I have always made cassette copies of most of my music to listen in the car so this is just a natural progression, I'm also quite used to sharing music with anyone, I suppose always in the hope that the person involved will share something of their own.
I also think they are method of familiarising yourself with particular artists sometimes put together a compilation to help me recognise a particular artist in order to ID a blank label or incorrectly labelled tune.
Mr. G; It was frustration at record companies putting out the same old stuff again and again (no names mentioned but one starts with »T«). With the swapping of rare tunes between collectors and fans, eventually the smaller companies sat up and took notice and we've seen in the last few years excellent compilations of Caltone stuff, Derrick Morgan's productions and the wonderful, albeit expensive, series of Rock A Shacka CDs from Japan.
Even the company that I hinted at before have been on top of their game recently and we've had a top a top reissue program from them, even though they do still repeat a lot of stuff.
I know there's so much music that it'd be impossible to reissue it all but some companies seem to aim towards releasing tunes for the casual listener who got into reggae through dance music rather than those of us who born and grow in reggae from day one almost. I guess they have money to make and Joe Public would probably turn their noses up at the output of an »untrendy« label such as Collins Downbeat for instance. I was initiated into reggae by black mates as a youth so I know the good tunes, rather than just the trendy stuff students love to dance to. I'm here to hopefully educate the uneducated and to put a big smile on the face of the already educated :)
So what are your favourite uploads. All you have compiled some incredible selections. So what you are looking for. Its seems to me that say in the Ska era, certain artists are well represented, while others like Baba Brooks and Higgs and Wilson are overlooked.
In other era's its the same thing, in reggae, people like Pat Kelly and Ernest Wilson are overlooked. An artist like Freddy McKay could also do with a nice compilation, but who are
the people or labels that you think need more work on? Beverley's for instance.
Also some of the comments aimed at uploaders, that you are just pirates. Would you like to comment on that? To me a real pirate are the companies who are making vast amounts of
money and yet still refuse to pay royalties. Would you agree with the attitude that if the artists are not being paid, no would should be paid?
Gabriel; That’s hard to answer because there is so many good uploads. I really like Steve Lindley’s compilations of any special artists. Or the “Ark Angel’s Collectors Shots” – for me as a non-roots man they really rock!
As I said before it would be nice to compile more label collections like Crab, Blue Beat, Black Swan and so on. Doing a full Blue Beat 45’s collection is my aim at the moment. It’s doesn’t matter if the tunes are bad, in bad quality or just not ska. It’s a chapter in Jamaican music history that are important not to forget! We have the Rough Guide-book and other books but I see the Internet and our compilations as a oral history lesson that are always in progress. Soon ska music celebrates 50 years and the originators starts to die. We, the younger generation, has an important task to spread the word and truth about Jamaican music and Internet and music is the best way to do that.
Yes people say we are pirates and that the artist doesn’t get paid. I can understand that comment if we shared new releases like Buju Banton, Sizzla or Gentleman that one can buy in store. But we talk about old 45’sand LPs that it can take years over years to even trace down and then they are sold for ridicules amounts of money to some Japanese collector. When we do our “pirate thing” we just make people hear music that otherwise would have been unheard. I use to have my downloaded music as a reference bibliotheca when I’m searching for tunes over at eBay or in record stores. The mp3s help me, and I think a lot of others, to find new artists and songs and in the second run buy new records and CDs.
Steve The Don; My fave would be the Early Shots series of early DJ cuts, I'm not really sure what I'm looking for I feel one of the delights of JA music is that an unknown artist can make just one record & its a real killer so its very difficult to find a compilation Cd with individual artists on, not forgetting pressure sounds More Pressure Cd a very good various artist Comp.
Pirates are people who SELL other peoples music, I've seen CDs which have changed the titles of some tunes without the artist knowing, what I do is the digital equivalent of you coming to my house for a cuppa & listening to some of my records.
Mr. G; Well artists that need a CD (or double CD) of their work released ASAP include Eric ›Monty‹ Morris, Baba Brooks(as you say), Roy Panton, Lester Sterling, Busty Brown, Vin Gordon, Charlie Ace, Roman Stewart and I'm sure there's some more I've forgotten right now.
Labels that need proper anthologies are Beverleys (there were a couple of CDs of late 60s reggae issued in France a few years ago from Mr Hamilton I think), especially the rocksteady sides. Also a CD of Olympic label rocksteady, a Red & White Island box set and a BlueBeat box set. I guess we'll never see them though.
As for piracy, well it's a grey area. We make no money from this and are just spreading music that needs to be heard. It should never be the priviledge of just peopl e who are rich. People who spend 500 quid on one record on EBay are not putting food into the artists mouths either. Why isn't the sale of 2nd hand records prohibited then? Didn't records have text on them once that read »not for resale«?
Personally I've spent tens of thousands of pounds on commercially available music, how much of that do the artists actually see? Big up people like Blood And Fire who make sure the artists are paid. But certain big record companies who are the parent companies of certain reggae labels, don't pay the artists and I've had that relayed to me from artists themselves.
I think that a foundation should be set up where people who enjoy the rare music that is being spread
around should make a small monthly donation of say 10 pounds and all money raised will go to needy artists. Recently I put out the word that I wanted to do a fundraising night for an old ska artist who isn't in the best of health. Thousands of people saw the appeal for help and not ONE replied. There are people out there getting rich from reggae and not giving a damn about the artists and the same people frown upon us who are just doing something out of love for the music. Personally I want to send as much money as possible to artists but how can I do this when
A) I'm not a rich man and
B) those artists don't have releases available in the shops that we can buy?
It's sad when someone with very little talent such as Beenie Man can be a millionaire and old ska singers who gave us countless classics, are struggling to find money for their fuel bills in the winter. . . .
In conclusion, I'd like to big up everyone who's been enjoying the music, my fellow compilers and to
everyone who keeps the »community« spirit of reggae music alive.
Too many people use the catchphrase »one love« then want to kill off the little man who is full of
love. . . .