Desmond Dekker & The Aces – Best Of Desmond Dekker

25 05 2010

Listened: Tuesday May 25

This album is of an entirely different nostalgia than the high school soundtracks I’ve just written about.

For context, Desmond Dekker was one of the first Jamaican stars recognized outside Jamaica (which, really, probably means he had a minor hit in England). It’s interesting to hear from this collection of songs where Bob Marley got some of his sound. Some of the very early Marley is of a similar musical style and the physical style of those early groups was more do-wop like Desmond (tailored nerd suits and close cropped hair, not hippie clothes and dreads).

007 (Shanty Town) has been referenced by many people over the years (“Dem a-loot, dem a-shoot, dem a-will”). Israelites, Problems, and Too Much Too Soon all have amazing beats and rhythms. Honor Your Mother and Father makes me laugh – a “cool” song about how you should respect your parents?

Now for the nostalgia – after college I went to Wales and England for 6 weeks to volunteer at some work camps doing historical and conservation projects. Desmond Dekker songs were definitely a big part of that trip. Ska, especially old-school ska, is mandatory listening in Britain. These songs make me think of the Welsh landscape, sleeping in a tent for weeks, and bouncing along country roads in a Lada with a shite sound system. But it all makes perfect sense – after all, it is island music, and isn’t Britain an island?



7 responses

25 05 2010
John D Porter

Desmond Dekker is an old fave of mine, too. I was living in London as a young teen when these songs first came out, then again as a working twenty-something a decade later. So the tracks also have a strong UK connection for me. Especially evocative of Portobello Road, all the Jamaican carts & food, incredibly good-looking West Indian girls…

I had the good fortune to go see DD here in SF, at Slim’s, several years ago. What a fun and sweaty show! DD must have been in his early 70s (he died not long after, sadly) but still small, slim and wound up tight. And a super showman, with the audience eating out of his hand.

I can recommend “The Harder They Come” (1972) with Jimmy Cliff acting and on the soundtrack, for some vintage, genuine Ska & Jumpup & Rocksteady (incl. DD’s “Shanty Town”). Must be shown with the bass turned up full blast.

26 05 2010

Sweet! Yeah, The Harder They Come is still on my “must see” list, haha.

3 06 2010

Don’t worry if the cassette player’s shitty quality, as long as it’s attached to big speakers just wind up the volume and base, relax and enjoy the thump and distortion, digital enhancement, my arse.

3 06 2010

Hey, part of the fond memories involve how it sounded coming out of the equipment, so I am fine with that. The mud makes it sound better! 🙂

Also, the company I had on those car rides was nice too!

27 07 2010
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