May 9, 2010, at 1:09 pm

What is Mod Reggae?

Trojan records have announced that four double CD compilations will be released at the end of the month. These appear to be a bit of a departure from other recent releases as they seem to cater to some extent to the collectors market with a higher proportion of obscure tunes. The four releases are Dub, Ska, Mod Reggae and a hits/rareities package called Heavy Heavy Monster Sound: The Story Of Trojan Records.

A few years ago with Sanctuary at the helm a three CD box set called Mod Reggae was released. Though the tunes were generally solid the title caused more than a few raised eyebrows as to most peoples knowledge there wasn’t, and never had been, a thing called “Mod Reggae”. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that under Universal the term has been revived. Tellingly they do add the caveat that these are “Ska, R&B and Rock Steady tracks that have been popular among both latter-day Mods and their predecessors”. What this essentially means is that since the 80’s there have been a minority of London Mod’s who were also into 60’s Jamaican music. Nothing wrong with that of course but if this is enough to justify the term Mod Reggae is a matter of opinion.

A track list might help our understanding so here it is:

1. Jamaica Ska – Keith & Ken
2. Cantaloupe Rock – Jo Jo Bennett & The Fugtives
3. Shook Shimmy And Shake – Owen Gray
4. Sammy Dead – Eric ‘Monty’ Morris
5. All You – The Sonny Burke Outfit
6. Brixton, Lewisham – Tony Washington ∆
7. Last Night Ska – Byron Lee & The Dragonaires
8. Endless Memory – Roy Panton *
9. The Philly Dog – The Granville Williams Orchestra * ∆
10. Sausage – Roland Alphonso & The Beverley’s All Stars #
11. River Bank Coberley – Top Grant ∆
12. The Hoop – Errol Dixon
13. Boof Ska – Tony Washington & The D.C.s ∆
14. Too Late – The Rulers ∆
15. Soul Time – Ken Lazarus & The Fugitives
16. How Sweet It Is – The Blues Busters
17. Sounds And Pressure – Hopeton Lewis
18. Yeh Yeh – Rico & The Rudies #
19. Do The Screw – Falcon Prince
20. The Harmonica Twist – Ernest Ranglin & The G.B.s ∆

1. Honky Tonk Ska – The Granville Williams Orchestra
2. I‘d Rather Be Lonely – David Isaacs
3. Soul Finger – Roland Alphonso & The Beverley’s All Stars #
4. Choo Choo Train – Sonny Burke ∆
5. So Fine – The Gladiators ∆
6. Help Me – Owen Gray
7. Summertime – Ernest Ranglin
8. Green Onions – Byron Lee & The Dragonaires
9. Show Me How (You Milk The Cow) – Tony Washington ∆
10. Musical Pressure – Jo Jo Bennett & The Fugitives
11. I Feel So Bad – Jackie Edwards
12. Why Don’t You Change – The Rulers ∆
13. Rock Steady Party – Glen Miller & The Fugitives
14. The Rock Steady Train – Ewan & Jerry with The Carib-Beats ∆
15. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly – Llans Thewell & The Celestials *
16. I Don’t Want – Errol Dixon
17. Venus – Winston Francis & Aubrey Adams Quintet
18. Let Me Love You – Rupie Edwards ∆ *
19. Watermelon Man – The Vagabonds ∆
20. Jerk Time – Tommy McCook & The Supersonics ∆

∆ Previously unavailable on CD
* Previously unreleased in the UK
# Previously unreleased

The ∆ * # marks are courtesy of Trojan and show that they appreciate that people will want to know that they are getting something a little different and not the same old same old that’s been on a dozen compilations already.

What is most interesting is the three unreleased tracks, two by Roland Alphonso And Beverley’s All Stars and one by the Rudies, the source of these is unclear but you can assume these are off old Trojan held tapes. If they are any good or not remains to be seen. The remainder is a mix of some real quality stuff, some quirky novelty tunes and some suspect UK product from the likes of Errol Dixon and Tony Washington. Overall this looks like a great proposition though you may find yourself fast forwarding past the also rans.

1 comment to What is Mod Reggae?

  • sean

    Original mods were listening to ska and rocksteady in the early to mid 60s onwards and was just as important to the scene as jazz r&b soul and beat.
    This is not new or something that was latched on to in the 80s.
    Alot of the original Skinheads had older cousins and brothers who’s mod style was remoulded and in turn evolved again into suedeheads and smoothies in the 70s.
    Ska tracks or bluebeat records were played 63 to 66 and rocksteady 66 to 68 by Mods.

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