Friday, January 9, 2015

Warm yourself up with this rare 1964 ska documentary

Posted By on Fri, Jan 9, 2015 at 2:24 PM

This is my first Michigan winter. I've lived in cold-ish climates before; I was a kid in Cleveland, and spent eight years in the New York City area as an adult. But the last sixteen years were spent in the much more temperate climes of the Pacific Northwest, so I'm not used to this real winter stuff so much yet. I'm learning so much, about lock de-icers and snow blowers and three pairs of socks and never ever wanting to leave the bed early in the morning. Of course, it's a mild winter thus far compared to last year's, which I missed, and I'm not complaining. Single digits with wind chill driving the temperature well below zero are still better than the constant dreary muck of Portland or Seattle winters, or so I say at this early point, anyway. 

If the weather's got you down, consider heating yourself up from within via the magic of ska — specificially this rare 1964 BBC documentary This is Ska. Among the singers, you've got Jimmy Cliff, the Maytals, Prince Buster, the Blues Busters, Stranger Cole, Monty Morris, and Roy Panton with Yvonne Harrison backed up ably by Byron Lee and the Dragonaires. The whole thing was hosted by Edward Seaga at the very, very happening Sombrero Club.

1964 was a giant year for this music. Minnie Small's cover of "My Boy Lollipop" was an international hit, first topping the charts in London, where many Jamaican ex-pats commingled with ex-colonials (Jamaica having declared independence from the U.K. just two years earlier). And while they failed to ignite too much commotion in the U.S., the ska delegation sent to the World's Fair that year was I'm sure a lot of fun.

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