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  • Writer's pictureThe Blue Beat Label


In 1960 London Emil Shallit and Siggy Jackson launched The Blue Beat Label and in the process created one of the most iconic, legendary, best loved and acclaimed independent record labels of all time.

As part of the celebrations of 60 years of the label THE BLUE BEAT LABEL SIXTY YEAR CELEBRATION ALBUM ‘Blue Beat Is Back In Town’ is out now.

An official release of one LP bringing together 15 great tracks from and related to The Blue Beat Label's culture shaping history.

Side one kicks off with "Blue Beat Is Back In Town" written and recorded specially by Marcus Upbeat during January 2020 for The Blue Beat Label to celebrate 60 years of the label. Marcus was largely responsible for the label's revival after it closed in 1967. Teaming up with previous owner Siggy Jackson, the label was relaunched by the duo in 2004 prior to Siggy's retirement in 2008. "Blue Beat Is Back In Town" first appeared on The Double A Side Sixty Year Celebration Single which was released as a limited edition 7" single for Record Store Day Drop Day 1 2020 to start the 60 year celebrations.

Track 2 was the "other" side of that double A side 60 year celebration single, and the first ever release on The Blue Beat Label in 1960, Laurel Aitken's "Boogie Rock". Laurel Aitken went on to have a stellar career and became known as "The Godfather of Ska". Laurel was Jamaica's first real recording star. He was a pioneer in many other respects as well, including the first to work at promoting his music in the U.K. and he was one of the first artists ever to release a ska record. Cutting his teeth on the sort of jump blues and boogie shuffles popular during the early days of American R&B, Lauren Aitken cut more than 15 singles for The Blue Beat Label including this track "Boogie Rock" the first ever release on the label.

Track 3. "Oh Carolina" from The Folkes Brothers with The Count Aussie Afro-Combo sounds as urgent and unique now as it did when it was first released on The Blue Beat Label. The first ever example of Rastafarian drumming on record is still inspired and loud!. A dancehall remake of "Oh Carolina" was Shaggy's first hit in 1983.

Track 4. In 1963 The Blue Beat Label began releasing some of the first examples of a new Jamaican beat called "Ska". Madness took their name from their idol Prince Buster's track 'Madness' released on The Blue Beat Label that year. The biggest selling record in The Blue Beat Label catalogue of that era was Prince Buster's 'Al Capone' c/w 'One Step Beyond' which reached No.18 in the UK charts in February 1967. It was covered by Madness as the title track for their 1979 debut album "One Step Beyond" which peaked in the UK charts at No 2 and remained in the charts for more than a year.

Two true living legends of The Blue Beat Label soundscapes are next as we enter the second half of side one.

Track 5. Derrick Morgan - Miss Lulu.

A member of the classic first wave of Jamaican ska artists, by 1960 Derrick Morgan was the unrivaled King of Ska - at the peak of his popularity, he was the first and only Jamaican artist to date to hold down the top seven slots on the national pop singles chart during the same week, generating a string of smashes including "Be Still," "In My Heart," "Don't Call Me Daddy," "Moon Hop," and "Meekly Wait and Murmur Not." In 1961, he recorded his biggest hit ever, "Housewives' Choice," and a year later - in celebration of Jamaica's emancipation - he recorded the first independence song, "Forward March". Miss Lulu was first released on The Blue Beat Label in 1964 and remains a firm favourite to this day. Derrick cut back on his performing schedule in the late '70s as he began having problems with his vision but still performs occasional live dates and festival bookings, and periodically returns to the recording studio.

Track 6. Call Me My Pet - Owen Gray.

Owen Gray is one of Jamaica's 'Foundation' singers whose work spans the R&B, ska, rocksteady, and reggae eras of Jamaican music, and he has been credited as Jamaica's first home-grown singing star. He was one of the first artists to be produced by Chris Blackwell, in 1960, and his "Patricia" single was the first record ever released by Island Records. His first single, "Please Let Me Go", reached the top of the charts in Jamaica. The single also sold well in the United Kingdom, as did subsequent releases, prompting Owen to emigrate there in 1962.

Owen recorded for The Blue Beat Label who had previously licensed some of his Jamacian sides. Call Me My Pet was released in 1963. Owen still records, tours and performs at festivals.

Ewan & Jerry "Oh Babe (Sick & Tired with The Carib Beats)" follows, originally released on The Blue Beat Label in 1967, and the first side winds to a close with one of the The Blue Beat Label's best grooves of all time Stranger Cole, Rough and Smooth (aka Rough and Tough).

Side two begins with Get Along Without You Now by Bad Manners Featuring Verona. In 1987, Buster Bloodvessel (of the 2 Tone ska revival band Bad Manners) and producer Ivan Healy Purvis started a brand new record label called Blue Beat Records and licensed The Blue Beat Label name and logo from Siggy Jackson for a series of releases. The label was run from a reclaimed riverboat named "The Bloodvessel'', which was in Bloodvessel's backyard. Between 1987 and 1990, the label released several records including this wonderfully produced version of "Great Along Without You Now".

The second track on side two is The Beat's Rough Rider. In the late 70s/early 80s, interest in The Blue Beat Label was once again rekindled when groups such as Bad Manners, Madness, The Specials, The Beat, and The Selecter kicked off a "Ska revival" by blending Ska rhythms with a Punky influence and filled the charts with hit record releases. The Beat covered Prince Buster's version of Eddy Grant's "Rough Rider" on their juggernaut debut album "I Just Can't Stop It", which became one of the best selling and acclaimed albums of the era. The Blue Beat Label duly joined the success of this "Ska revival" by reissuing some of those original classic tracks on 12" singles.

The Marvels were formed back in 1962. The original line up was Alexander Hinds aka Dimples along with his Wife Ornell Hinds and Eddie Smith. The first single release was called "Fleet Street" sang by Dimples and Eddie written by Dimples. The Marvels appeared on various TV shows including "The Old Grey Whistle Test". They were the first Jamaican black group to appear on the British TV show "Opportunity Knocks" hosted by Huey Green" winning the show several times. They worked with many performing artists including Dusty Springfield, Larry Grayson, Ken Dodd and many more. The Marvels toured all over the world, even performing in Iran for the King of Persia ( The Shah ) and his Wife at the Palace. The group was later joined by Hazel McCauley and a South African singer called Temzie, when they were known as The Marvels 5 for a time. Jackie Edwards later joined The Marvels adding his essence to this great vocal group, Owen Gray also performed with The Marvels .

Later Bobby D from the Sensations joined the group followed by the beautiful Songstress Tracy King and last but not least Alex and Ornell Hinds daughter Donna Hinds joined the group. Originally released by The Marvels on The Blue Beat Label in 1964. In 2012 Alex and his Daughter Donna collaborated with No.1 Station to produce this great duet version of "We'll Have a Ball".

Track 4. She's So Sweet is another more recent release on The Blue Beat Label. Marcus and the Microdots describe themselves as "Psychedelic Reggae. Marcus and the Microdots are vibrant new age and hippie, producing happy uplifting Blue Beat influenced sounds. Mixed by Rupert Cobb who has mixed for many great artists including Cat Stevens, The Killers, Primal Scream and Randy Crawford.

When The Blue Beat Label was relaunched in 2004 No.1 Station released six 7" single - 12 original tracks on The Blue Beat Label which included new tracks featuring original Blue Beat artists The Marvels and Eddie "Tan Tan" Thornton - the trumpeter on all the No.1 Station releases. Laurel's Boogie, a track written in Laurel Aitken's memory came from those releases. It has since been updated and remixed and is a firm modern day Blue Beat favourite..

By the early 70's John Holt was one of the biggest stars of reggae. In 1972 The Blue Beat Label reissued some of the earlier Prince Buster hits that were in huge demand at the time as well as some reggae songs including John Holt. Following The Blue Beat Label releases and period John Holt went on to release a compilation "1000 Volts of Holt" in 1973. 1000 Volts of Holt spawned the UK Top 10 hit Help Me Make It Through the Night written by Kris Kristoffereson. An all time classic version of the song.

No celebration would be complete without Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think). The Blue Beat Label Sixty Year Celebration album concludes with a great summation from Jools Holland and the self proclaimed "King of Blue Beat" Prince Buster performing Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think).

1 legendary label, 60 years, your record collection needs THE BLUE BEAT LABEL SIXTY YEAR CELEBRATION ALBUM ‘Blue Beat Is Back In Town’.

Available at hmv and all good record stores and online outlets.


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