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Reggae/Ska

Toots & the Maytals: “Funky Kingston” and “Sweet and Dandy”

The visuals in both of these videos — Funky Kingston (above) and Sweet and Dandy (below) are fabulous, as is the music. The Sweet and Dandy clip is from The Harder They Come, one of the greatest musicals ever. The  Funky Kingston video simply shows streets scenes of Kingston, presumably in the early 1970s when the song was released.

Depending on the mood of the viewer, the clips show either crushing poverty or capture the fantasy of having nothing and living among a group of people who have nothing as well. Upon thinking it through, living in that way isn’t attractive, of course. But, still…

Here is part of Toots & the Maytals’ Wikipedia profile is very interesting:

Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, the frontman of the group, was born in May Pen, Clarendon, Jamaica in 1942, the youngest of seven children. He grew up singing gospel music in a church choir, and moved to Kingston in the early 1960s.

In Kingston, Hibbert met Henry “Raleigh” Gordon and Nathaniel “Jerry” Mathias, forming in 1961[2] a group whose early recordings were incorrectly attributed to “The Flames” and “The Vikings” in the UK by Island Records. The Maytals first had chart success recording for producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd at Studio One. With musical backing from Dodd’s house band, The Skatalites, the Maytals’ close-harmony gospel singing ensured success, overshadowing Dodd’s other up-and-coming vocal group, The Wailers. After staying at Studio One for about two years, the group moved on to do sessions for Prince Buster before recording with Byron Lee in 1966.[1] With Lee, the Maytals won the first-ever Jamaican Independence Festival Popular Song Competition with their original song “Bam Bam” (later covered in a Dancehall style by Sister Nancy, and also by Yellowman in 1982).[1][3] However, the group’s musical career was interrupted in late 1966 when Hibbert was arrested and imprisoned for 18 months.[1] He stated that he was not arrested for ganja, but while bailing a friend.[4] He also stated that he made up the number 54-46 when writing “54-46 That’s My Number” about his time in jail.[5] (Continue  Reading…)

The band’s website has tour news and plenty of other information.

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

🎼🎺🎻🎹🎷🎶🎵


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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