November 27 2012
More vintage caribbean music on Sound Travels this week and Jamaica is our island destination. While reggae and dancehall are the island's modern musical staples, early Jamaica was what was on my mind when I hatched my plan for the week. So I started with the earliest stuff I could find; mento.
Actually, given the strong connection to calypso, with songs easily swapped between the concurrent sounds, it's a little inevitable and quite natural. Mento is Jamaican folk music and an important influence on pretty much everything that came after it in Jamaica. Ska, rocksteady, reggae and even dancehall draw from this venerable source that still spings in a local level in Jamaica. Funny, folksy and more that a little dirty, mento is full of mundane commentary laced with innuendo. Everybody knows Harry Belafonte and Toots & The Maytals, but do they know their sounds are steeped in mento? Here are a few more examples that you might not know...
Lord Ivanhoe & His Caribbean Knights "The Water Gobbler"
Lord Messam & His Calypsonians "Linstead Market And Day O"
Ben Bowers & Bertie King's Royal Jamaicans "Not Me"
Cecil Knott & His Joybell Orchestra "Banana"
Lord Composer "Hilly & Gully Ride"
Hubert Porter & George Moxey "Dry Weather House"
The Jolly Boys "Perseverence"