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About mento:  What Is Mento?   What Mento Isn't    Can I Buy Mento Recordings? 
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1950s
artists:
  Lord Fly   Count Lasher    Lord Tanamo    Count Sticky  Lord Messam 
 Count Owen    Lord Flea    Lord Lebby    Harold Richardson & The Ticklers  
  Arthur Knibbs    Chin's Calypso Sextet, A. Bedasse, E. F. Williams & Ivan Chin  
Later
artists:
 The Jolly Boys    Stanley Beckford    The Hiltonaires   Lord Antics 
 Sugar Belly    Mento Bands Performing At Jamaican Hotels and Elsewhere 
 Carlton James and The Rod Dennis Mento Band   Naaman Lee 
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scans:
More on
mento:
 More Artists and Favorite Song Clips    Download Mento Screen Backgrounds   Mento Video 
  The Jamaican Music Roadmap   A cross-reference of all mento lyrics found on this site
Mento related:  Bob Marley & The Wailers & mento   Toots & The Maytals & mento   Mento & Jazz    Foreign Mento 
 Harry Belafonte and mento    Edric Connor, Louise Bennett and Jamaican folk music    Mento Souvenirs 
  
More Middle Period Album Scans

 

Page last revised: 8/2/16

 

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  Background    Assorted LPs    Mento-Reggae    A Quadrille LP    Silver Seas/Lord Jellicoe   
  
Duke   Denzil Laing/Wrigglers/Arawak Hotel    Tower Isle LPs    Dennis Sindrey LPs    See also... 

Background

Many of the releases from mento's golden-age were targeted to tourists. This continued into the 1960s, with most (but not all) mento LP releases having strong tie-ins with the hotel where the band performed. Not only did the jackets celebrate the hotel (often to a greater degree than the band), but judging by the large number of surviving autographed LPs from this decade, the LP was sold at the hotel as well. This practice continues , as today's mento bands performing at hotels typically have a CDR for sale. These hotel LPs span the rural, jazz and folk styles.

Assorted Mid-Period LPs

Surprisingly on the RCA label, here's a very good middle period hotel LP: "Souvenir Album" of Ocho Rio's Falcondip hotel. Not that you can tell from the jacket. The band isn't pictured; music isn't even mentioned. It's not until we read the label before we know the group is called The Falconaires.

Its a rural lineup, albeit with an electric rhythm guitar, including some real good banjo playing (on the deliciously sharp sound of ukulele banjo) and fine vocals with more and one lead singer and some high pitched wordless throat singing and mouth trumpet that accents a few songs.

   
 

"Jane And Her Boyfriend" is "She Pon Top";  "Calypso Shuffle" is "Mama I Want To Work"

"Yankee Gal" is uses the melody of "Penny Reel";   "Mother Banana" is based on "John Tom"

"Turn Them Back" includes a piece of "Hill And Gully Rider"

"Falcondip Calypso" is to the melody of Count Lasher's "Calabash".


 

  
 

Living up to their name, here are the The Happy Smilers with their LP, "Plantation Inn", on the Kalypso label. Dan Neely has identified one of the Smilers as golden age singer Robin Plunkett. Contrary to speculation I had previously posted, the guitarist, Euton, is not Euton  (Lord) Gayle.

Though instrumentally spare, superior lead and backing vocals make this LP an good listen. As of mid-2003, a group by this name was active and performing at the Plantation Inn in Ocho Rios! Because they are favorites of mine and it is out of print, a clips from this LP can be heard on the More Artists and Favorite Song Clips page.

   

Here is an eponymous The Happy Smilers  LP on the Kalypso label. The short band bio that appears on the previous album's back jacket is repeated here. Unusual for such albums, there's a date on the label: 1975. The sound is similar to the previously described, though the other album's highlights make it a better set. The Plantation Inn, where the band performed, continues to be well promoted, the name appearing on the label and back jacket.



Matthias Münchow of Hamburg, Germany supplies the track listing that shows the influence of Harry Belafonte's repertoire.

A-side

1. Island in the Sun
2. Jamaica Farewell
3. Land Of The Sea & Sun
4. Come Back Liza
5. Shenandoah
 


B-side

1. Shame And Scandal
2. Freckles
3. Not Me
4. Banana
5. Take Her To Jamaica



"Calypso Beach Party", an
obscure LP by The Goldenaires on the Federal label. Ken Khouri's son's Richard and Paul handled jacket design and recording duties respectively. Along with the expected middle period repertoire, there are two pleasing instrumentals. Good mid-period rural mento performed by:

  Lebert "Jack" Brown -
banjo and singing

Clinton "Pork Oil" Gordon -
vocal. guitar, drum, dancer

Oswald "Youth" Jackson -
vocal maracas, rumba box

Lionel "Water Bird" Davis -
guitar and band leader

  Courtesy Mark Butcher of Minneapolis, Minnesota are these label scans from another LP by The Goldenaires: "Welcome You" on the Kalypso label.  Four decades after these LP, the Goldenaires would release a CD. A 2008 picture of the groups can be seen here.

On the Kalypso label, here is "Meet Me In Jamaica At The Casa Maria Hotel" by Vincent Bogle and The Upbeaters. A stereo release points to this LP having been released no earlier than the end of the 1960s. Mostly Bellefonte and calypso covers. In spite of an Upbeater showing off an electric guitar in the cover photo, (happily) banjo and a pleasant classic rural sound is instead heard. Band credits are listed on the liner notes:
 


Vincent "Pepper" Bogle:
leader, rumba box, bass

Oswald "Ossie" Williams:
lead guitar
[and most probably banjo]

Ralph "Chess" Lindsay:
guitar, vocals

Isiah "Calypso" Barrett:
vocals and drum
 


   

On the NYC-based Sue Records label is the stereo LP, "Scandal In Montego Bay", by the Montego Bay-based Percy Dixon and His Merry Boys. The liner notes are not all that informative, though by mentioning ska, it does help date this LP as having been released no earlier than the mid-1960s. Though the front cover is totally irrelevant, the back jacket does include a small picture of the band (excerpted below) that reveals a classic rural mento line up.

                    


The band is polished and the set is a pleasant listen. The banjo player is accomplished -- which seems to be the rule for Mobay mento bands. The repertoire has few surprises, especially once some of the song names are corrected. "
Denny Reel" is "Penny Reel", "In A Row" is "Mandeville Road", and "Ben-O-Dict" is "Ben Wood Dick". The latter is a standout.

This LP spawned a single on Sue Records, as seen here.

Billed as King Dixon and His Merry Boys,  this act competed in a 1961 calypso competition, as seen here.


Special thanks to Matthias Münchow for alerting me to this release.

Here is another album by Percy Dixon and His Merry Boys, "Calypso For You Dreams".
 
Atypical for a Kalypso album, its packaged in a blank sleeve, depriving us of any opportunity to learn who the fluid banjo player is. The sound is classic rural in a mellow mood. "Hold Him Joe" has some of Lord Composer's "Let Me Go Melda" worked into it.  
 My copy has an autographed jacket:

   Best regards to Mr and Mrs Kaurich
      Percy Dixon and His Merry Men
               Worried Over You


Note that the latter is a featured song
rather than a literal statement.
 


 
   

While most middle period mento is rural, here is some 1960s urban mento. "Rucumbine" by Carlos Malcolm and his Afro Jamaican Rhythms, released on the SON label includes such mentos as "Linstead Market", "Dog War", "Nobody's Business" and the title track, along with songs from other sources, played by a band of horns, electric guitar, bass and drums. Unlike Malcolm's "Ska Mania" album, there is no ska here, though the only thing missing is the trademark ska beat. Another difference between these albums is that "Rukumbine" never has been released on CD. A single from this LP can bee seen here.


In the 1950's Lord Lebby had a stint at The Montego Beach Hotel that resulted in a string of 78s and a LP. Here are two LP that hotel that followed the end of Lebby's residency.


 
 
Above is "Slim Henry plays at Montego Beach", an LP on the label of the same name. Slim Henry had previously recorded rural mento with Ken Khouri in the 1950s, and two such tracks can be heard on the CD collection "Rookumbine: Authentic Calypsos and Mentos". The liner notes have  surprising amount of information about the musicians: singer and guitar player Slim Henry's real name is Henry Dudley Brown. A name familiar as Lord Flea's fine banjo player, Porkchops, is present, but on this LP, he plays mandolin, rather than banjo. Happily, his real name is supplied: Charles Lorenzo Harrison. The rest of the band is Ken Cole on banjo, Bash   (Thomas McLaughlan) on rumba box and Ken Longshaw on conga and bongo.   (Perhaps the latter is "Lord Largie ", who played percussion with Flea Porkchops. Or perhaps not.) A detailed version of the band photo from the front jacket can be seen here. The jacket also includes the lyrics for some of the songs, apparently only the ones it had handy from the earlier Lebby LP release.

The repertoire is also based on Lebby's stint at the MBH. One track, "Montego Mama" is probably the song the notes intended to single out when it incorrectly stated that "Shame and Scandal" was an original composition by Henry. Another tack, "Beyond The Hills" is unfamiliar. The sound is very nice. Uncharacteristic mandolin by Porkchops is often out front of the banjo/guitar/rumba box/percussion rhythmic back bone. And upon closer listening, the two tracks found on "Rookumbine: Authentic Calypsos and Mentos" also feature this mandolin enhanced line up.

    

"Calypso at Montego Beach Hotel", an
LP on the Federal label is a more anonymous MBH release. It features The MBH Calypso band playing rural mento and shares song selections with other Lord Lebby/MBH recordings. The lead singers and musicians are not identified. And the liner notes tip that, "Throughout the last 17 years the composition of the band has changed from time to time as some of the boys went on to better jobs in the entertainment world." A notch down in musical quality from previous MBH recordings, just as Lebby's MBH sides were from his Kalypso sides.


   
 
"Jamaica, Hello", an LP by The Diggers on an undesignated label. This is an interesting release for several reasons: Its from the 1970s (recorded in stereo) but does not appear to be affiliated with a particular hotel. It has informative liner notes, band photos, a band history, the member's names, and a description of their contest wins and subsequent affiliation with the Jamaican Tourist Board that led to performances in the US, Mexico and Canada. It also points out the mix of songs as being either originals, mento ("calypso") staples, or Belafonte popularized. The music is well played and sung, though, tourist friendly, it's a bit tame.  

The Diggers:
Raphael Fray - lead singer, guitar, band leader
Horace Campbell - banjo and alternate lead singer
Owen Scott  - Rumba box and backing vocals
Zaphaniah James - drum and backing vocals

Here is a photo of from perhaps 1974 of The Diggers performing for some tourists.
The back of the photo reveals that The Jamaica Tourist Board was involved.

         


    
 

"Rose Hall Calypso", an LP on the Dynamic Sound Recording label by "Danny"   (Gloucester) Hill. The notes and photos of the artist would lead you to believe that the Rose Hall resort's featured performer is a solo act. But Danny Hill leads a rural mento line up, even if the banjo player opts out on a few tracks. This is smooth, polished rural mento in vocals and instrumentation, and the song selection assures that there is nothing in this set that the patrons of Rose Hall could find objectionable.


   
 

"Ska-Lip-Soul" is an interesting LP from 1965 by Price Buster on the label that bears his name. Its an interesting mix of mento and ska, as broken down below. It also includes pretty good liner notes.

 
  Wings Of A Dove The old spiritual as a ska/dance band mento hybrid
  Respect Soul with a ska beat
  Cut Munno Dance band mento, with a rural flair
  Mek It Tan Deh Goosie Dance band mento
  Sammy Dead Medley Jamaican folk/mento as ska
  Dance Jamaïca Rural mento with brass
  Mr Wonderful An old standard in ska
  How Can I Tell Them Ska
  Day-O Jamaican folk/mento as ska
  And I Love Her Cocktail jazz
  Matilda The Anancy folk song as ska/dance band mento hybrid
  Rum And Coca Cola Calypso hit as ska

                   


"Songs From The Caribbean" an eight song 10" LP from 1955 by Lord Composer and the Calypso Champions. This is an interesting find for a number of reasons. First it nay be Composer's only LP. Second its on an unfamiliar label, Art, out of Miami, Florida. Third, the jacket art and Composer's autograph indicate that Composer had by that time relocated to Nassau. Fourth, the label confirms that Composer's name is Omri Mundle. Fifth, front jacket includes a rare photograph of Lord composer. The back jacket is blank. The autograph reads, "Keep me among your souvenirs. Best regards from Lord Composer, P/O Box 1521, Nassau."

On this LP, Composer chooses a number of great mento songs of that time, avoiding the over popular, more touristy ones that were flogged to near death in the next decade's wave of hotel LPs. The music is decidedly mellow featuring Composer's laid-back vocals, piano, hand drum and maracas accompaniment. It sounds nothing at all like the classic, intense single Composer recorded for MRS in the 1950s   (but then again, nothing did).

All of these tracks along with another eight that are similar in source and sound can be downloaded from at least one on-line music service, as described on the Can I Buy Mento? page.

Below, courtesy of Peter Roth of www.skaville.de, is the full 12" version of this album:

   

Courtesy of Dan Neely, "Let's Dance The Ska"   (by mento banjo player Euton "Lord" Gayle ) is also clearly courting the ska dance and music craze of the mid-1960s. Gayle, who was Count Owen's banjo player in the 1950s, plays a ska chop on his banjo on some tracks. But the sound is much more rural mento than ska. Backed by a drum, rumba box, backing vocals and occasional flute, Gayle's strumming and soloing makes for a fuller sound than you might expect. His lead vocals are pleasing as well. The photo of the back jacket reveals that Gayle's base of operation was The Reef Club and lists the members of his band, The Seasiders.

 


"Mr. Gayle who plays the banjo and sings is ably assisted by":

Oswald Jackson - Rumba Box
Lionel Davis - Guitar
Cleveland Brown - Flute and Maracas,
Abraham Lewis - Drums

Abraham Lewis also appears on an LP by The Joy Makers, as seen below.

  An LP by Count Frank, who the liner notes (in addition to mentioning "mento") tells us is Frank Anderson. The typical repertoire with bass, banjo, acoustic guitar, maracas and and hand drum backing up Frank's unusual voice. The jacket identifies the label as WIRL, but the label is of the later Kalypso design. 

   
 
Courtesy of Olivier Albot are the scans a 1970 LP on the frm label called "Jamaica Magic" by Lloyd Wilks and The Soulettes. From the back jacket photo, this appears to be the the Rita Marley - Nora Dean - Cecile Campbell line up of The Soulettes. This not only creates another interesting Wailers and mento connection, but another Nora Dean and mento connection, as this great reggae singer has also recorded "Walk and Talk" "Out The Light" and "Night Food". All this is a bit more interesting than the music itself.

Aimed at the tourist, tracks include 4 familiar mento selections, plus 8 originals written by Cornel Lumiere. The music is best described as easy listening as played by a jazz combo. Lloyd Wilks has a fine polished "popular vocals" delivery. The Soulettes sound great, though they are criminally underused throughout. The familiar tracks are "Day-O" (which includes some of "Hill and Gully Rider"), "Yellow Bird", "Jamaica Farewell", and "Island In The Sun".

 
 
Here is the "Jamaica Magic" LP
in another jacket, complete with a
gatefold sleeve and a 16 page
booklet.

The booklet includes music for
the originals and lyrics for all
selections, along with monochrome
photos of Jamaican scenery and
people . But the artist photos
found on the other jacket are not
included anywhere in this LP.

The pages with the lyrics to the
four "all-time favourites"
can be seen right.

   
 
A 1957 LP called "Jamaica Calypso" by Lord Montego and His Calypsonians  led to the hope that this "calypso" was mento. But sometimes Jamaican "calypso" is just that. Trini in sound and repertoire. Released on the American Audio Fidelity label. 

   
 
On a label called SOMB (Sound of Montego Bay) is the hotel LP, "Jamaica Calypso Souvenir" by The Joy Makers. One band member, Abraham Lewis, also appeared on an LP by Lord Gayle, as seen above. The liner notes point out that this band won a medal in the calypso/mento completion at the 1976 Festival.
 


 

Lead vocal -
   Abraham Lewis
Banjo -
   Cyril Beckford
Rumba box -
   Zephiniah Taylor
Guitar/harmony -
   Count Moodie
 
A single from this album can be seen here. A brief video clip of the Joy Makers performing can be seen on this site's "Mento Video" page.

   
 

An LP on the Island Music Records label from the late 1960s called, "At The Courtleigh Manor" by the unoriginally named Calypso Joe. ("Calypso Joe" has served as a name for songs, artists, records, movies, toys, musical instruments, etcetera beginning decades before this release.)

This is an urban hotel LP, with a jazzy lead and a rhythm electric guitars dominating the sound. The songs are familiar 1960s mento band

selections, with a leaning towards Trinidad calypso covers. One original, "Rock Steady Calypso" is more of a salute than a fusion of these genres. The jacket features nice band photo, but no information about the musicians. Instead, we are reminded that Jamaica has good drinks! As you can see from the autographed jacket at left, the band was performing at  Courtleigh Manor in 1969.

   

An LP on the WIRL label from the 1960s by pianist-bandleader Mapletoft Poulle with vocals by Peter Hudson. Its one of the few LPs labeled as "Mento". Full dance-band style: Latin percussion replaces  hand drum. Clarinet and piano are featured instruments. A group of 6 singers provides background vocals. The sound is very full. Banjo is not utilized. Mapletoft explains in the liner notes that clarinet has been used in mento "for at least the last 50 years". The notes also list the musicians, including a familiar name Bertie King on the afore mentioned clarinet as well as drums. Bertie was a band leader for some golden age dance band sides. He also was the saxophonist and pan whistle player on the 1960s mento-jazz LP, "Party Time".
 
 
Personnel:

Bass - Herbert Nelson
Guitar - Fritz Collash
Drums - Bertie King
Bongos - Sonny Bethelmy
Maracas - Freddie Golbraith
Clarinet - Joscelyn Francis
Piano - Mapletoft Poulle

On cuts, "Nobody's Business", "Rocky Road" and Jackass Corn:

Clarinet: Bertie King ("Ace Jamaican clarinetist ")
Drums - Donald Jarrett

As seen to
the left,
some copies
of this LP
were pressed
 on colored
vinyl. 

  

Thanks to Dan Neely for pointing out that Mapletoft Poulle was co-composer of Jamaica's national anthem   (along with Hugh Sherlock and Robert Charles Lightbourne). "Dip and Fall Back" from this LP is included on and names Trojan's  2006 CD compilation "Dip And Fall Back".

Another LP from this era, with Mapletoft Poulle and His Orchestra backing the vocals of Lord Fly can be seen here. From the liner notes of that LP, here is Mapletoft's resume:

Mapletoft Poulle has led an Orchestra since 1942 and has always been interested in Jamaican folk music. He has accompanied Jamaican shows playing Jamaican Mento music in Puerto Rico at the Caribbean Festival of Arts in 1952, in Trinidad at the Celebrations to inaugurate the Federation of the West Indies in 1958, in Cuba in 1959 and in the U. S. A., in the show "Sun Over The West Indies". He performed with the Ivy Baxter Dance Troupe for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England on her visit to Jamaica in 1953 and for Princess Margaret on her visit to Jamaica in 1955 on both occasions playing Jamaican Mento music.

Thanks to Generoso Fierro of Boston in the US, for alerting me to the following LP from 1958: "Jamaican Carnival at The Myrtle Bank", by Baba Motta and Orchestra on the Carib label.

The music on this hotel album is best described as mento-jazz. Tracks 1, 2, 5, 7, 8 & 10 are familiar songs from the mento repertoire. In fact, "She Pon Top" is a remake of a Motta's popular golden age dance-band track. The band plays very professional and polished cocktail jazz. The rhythm on these tracks is distinctively Jamaican and Motta's distinctive piano playing is also evident.   (Read on for more on the impressive line up of musicians on this LP.) A worthy successor to the Mento Jazz of the 1920s. The other tracks are straight jazz, except for the last track, John Canoe, which is a fine drum and fife pocomania performance.


     
 
1. Wheel and Turn Me
2. Solas Market
3. Solitude
4. In Bond
5. Linstead Market
6. Music of Latins
     (with vocal)
7. Make We Federate
      (with vocal)
8. Busy Line   (with vocal)
9. Easy To Remember
10. She Pon Top   (with vocal)
11. Four Steps
12. John Canoe

Note: The large back
jacket scan is very big
in order to preserve
legibility. If you click
on the above, it may take
some time to load.


The notes on the back of the jacket do describe the music rather than just the hotel, but regrettably does not list the musicians:

When we decided to produce an album of typical Jamaican music with a subtle hint of cosmopolitan sophistication, we could think of only one name: Baba Motta, the island's ever-popular band leader. We found Baba Motta at the picturesque Myrtle Bank Hotel in downtown Kingston, on the waterfront of the city's busy harbor, and here in the setting in which the band was accustomed to play, we had the pleasure of recording the music contained in this album.

All visitors to Jamaica have heard "Linstead Market," and here Baba injects a new twist. We will not spoil your listening by describing his arrangement - we want you to hear it for yourself.

In "Wheel And Turn Me", one may again notice Baba's unique style. The sly lyrics of "She Pon Top'" will delight the attentive listener and for a change of pace we have "Solitude," "Music of Latins", "In Bond" and many others.

The ability of the Calypsonian to take a current political situation and set it to music is aptly demonstrated here in "Make We Federate," a humorous description of the possibilities of the newly formed West Indies Federation. Whichever your favorite Jamaican music, we feel certain that you will find it here in an unusually attractive-performance. Baba and the boys wish you pleasant listening!

Happily, Dan Neely was able to provide some personnel info for this LP, and there are some familiar names, but not from mento: Roland Alphonso is on sax and Clue J is on bass. The drummer was someone interesting as well, but Dan could not recall exactly who it was.

More happiness, as Brian Keyo provided the rest of the roster: Ken Williams is on drums, Leo Wilson was on trumpet, and Ernest Ranglin was on guitar. Motta takes vocals on three  tracks, but Brian thinks it might be Roy Shurland on "Music Of Latins". It also sounds like a percussionist is on most tracks, perhaps Larry McDonald.

In January of 2006, I heard from Tennille Wilson, granddaughter of Leo Wilson. She was able to provide the following information about her grandfather:

My grandfather was Jamaican born & raised. He worked with Baba Motta for over 10 years. He played at the Myrtle Bank Hotel on Harper Street in Kingston, where they were the resident band for about the same time. He left after that to go to the Tower Isles Hotel and started the Leo Wilson Quartet and the Leo Wilson Trio. He then went on teach as a music professor for a school for underprivileged boys from 1977 thru 1985. He then went on to be musical director Elim Gospel Hall on Shortridge Road in Jamaica until his death in 1997.

Song clips from this LP cam be heard on the More Artists and Song Clips page.

Mento-Reggae

Primarily a singles style, for more on mento-reggae, see this section of the "More Middle Period Single Scans" page.

Below is "Ram Jam" by The Price Brothers on the Thunderbolt label. This is the only LP by this mento-reggae act. For more on the namesake hit single, click here.

   

 

Like the single, the LP has had a variety of releases. Here are some cover variations,    

  Courtesy of Simon Layton,  the image left that adds full band credits to is actually the back jacket.

Below is "King Bed Bug", an album by Calypso Williams on the GGs label.

   

Shirley "Calypso" Williams turns out to be the artist also known (oddly) as Mix Flour And Sugar, who had at least one popular mento-reggae single, as seen here.

The music is purely mento-reggae. There's a combination of original songs and mento covers. "Food In The Bed" is Chin's "Night Food". "Donkey Want Seabath" is "Hol 'Em Joe".

A Quadrille LP

"The Good Old Days Quadrille" by The McBeth Orchestra on the Joe Gibbs label from around the early 1970s. The instrumentation is very mento like, with banjo prominently featured. The music is instrumental, except for a square-dance-like caller.
 
  

Although its not uncommon for mento acts from the 1950s to today to record a Quadrille, the above is the only Jamaican Quadrille LP I've come across. Several Quadrille singles can be seen on the Naaman Lee page.

Quadrille has its beginnings in 19th century France as a dance and accompanying music. Quadrille moved into Britain, and into its colonies as well. Quadrille was an antecedent to both square dancing music in America as well as to mento in Jamaica. This site makes it clear that mento is still a active in Jamaica, a find like the LP above indicates that neither has Quadrille been totally forgotten. However, Dan Neely notes that in Jamaica, quadrille is rapidly being

lost. He explains that a lot of mento bands lament the fact that although they can play quadrilles, they don't have any reason to, as they can't find anyone to dance it properly anymore. And there is an increasingly smaller number of people who can teach it, despite everyone's best efforts.

 
The McBeth Orchestra:
McBeth - banjo
Ruben White - Trumpet
Melburn Reynolds - saxophone
Cleveland Renolds - bass
Edga Murry - guitar
Neville Johnson - drums

Click here to see a single by The McBeth Orchestra.

Silver Seas LPs and Lord Jellicoe

   

The Silver Seas LP, "Silver Seas Calypsos" on the Ritmo label features a line up with familiar names from mento's golden age and middle period, making for a mento Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

     Eddie Brown - guitar and voc.
     Jellicoe Barker -  guitar and voc.
     Hubert Porter - maracas and voc.
     Monty Reynolds - rumba box
     Levi Burke - bongo

The music is smooth and pleasing with notable acoustic guitar and strong vocals and harmonies. Banjo is not utilized. Lead vocal chores are shared, with Barker and Porter each singing lead on four tracks, Brown on three, Burke on one and Reynolds sticking to backing vocals.

     Side 1
     Reincarnation   (lead voc: Jellicoe Barker)
     Coolie Gal   (lead voc: Hubert Porter)
     In the Land of America   (lead voc: Eddie Brown)
     Wrong Man   (lead voc: Eddie Brown)
     Adam's Fault   (lead voc: Jellicoe Barker)
     River Come Down   (lead voc: Jellicoe Barker)
Side 2
Caroline   (lead voc: Levi Burke)
Big Bamboo   (lead voc: Hubert Porter)
Charley's Cow   (lead voc: Hubert Porter)
Jamaica Banana   (lead voc: Jellicoe Barker)
Rock You Body In Time   (lead voc: Hubert Porter)
Daphne's Be-Bop Walking   (lead voc: Eddie Brown)

Because it was released on the NYC-based Ritmo, it is relitively east to find and afford for a 1960s mento LP. Two clips from this LP can be heard on the Other Artists & Favorite Song Clips page.

The liner notes by by future Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga describe Silver Sea's American television appearances and other significant performances. He goes on to explain that this calypso album is, in fact, mento, "a term, which, strangely enough, is not at all well known in Jamaica".

Some copies of the LP contain a lyrics pamphlet insert, as seen below:

 

Robin Bleakley, of Louisville, Kentucky alerted me to the LP, "Conch Ain't Got No Bones". It was released on a label designated as Sounds of The Caribbean   (A division of Request Records Inc, 66 Memorial Highway, New Rochelle, NY). Robin explains:

I noticed the "Silver Seas Calypsos" LP and that the songs on this release are virtually the same and in the same order, though the last two on Side A of that album are missing from this one. Instead, this LP was two songs by Hubert Smith   (who I believe is from Bermuda). The rest are credited to The Island Champions.

 
Side 1:

1. Conch Ain't Got No Bone *
2. Reincarnation
3. Coolie Gal
4. In De Land of America
5. Wrong Man
6. Mary Anne  *

  * by Hubert Smith

Side 2:

1. Caroline
2. Big Bamboo
3. Why Oh Papa Gone   (Charlie's Cow)
4. Banana   (Jamaica Banana)
5. Rock You Body   (...In Time)
6. Daphne's Be-Bop Walking

As seen below, in the list compiled by Olivier Albot of France, Silver Seas member   (Lord) Jellicoe Baker recorded a string of LPs.
  LP Label Year
 Jamaica Treasure Trade Winds   (WIRL) ?
 Sunny Jamaica WIRL L/P 1910 1963
 At The Sheraton WIRL 1040 1965
 A Man & His Calypso WIRL 1046    1966
 Big Bamboo Federal 1965
 Big Bamboo   (re-release)   (Ken Khouri Production) 1966

   

Scans courtesy of Olivier Albot, is an LP Lord Jellicoe and His Calypso Monarchs  LP, "Jamaica Treasure" on the Trade Winds label, which is a WIRL imprint. Olivier offers the following comments on this LP:

"Jamaica Treasure" seems to have been made for tourists at the Kingston airport on their way back home. Very pleasant. Some tracks are ballads accompanied by a single folk guitar   (Fly Me To The Moon, Moon River, etc.) and are sung by featured band member Pee Wee Bailey. The Jellicoe tracks are light calypsos. 'Remember Ma & Pa' is a slower cover version of the Lord Creator song. This maybe the first Jellicoe album   (circa 1962). It may also be the same album as 'Sunny Jamaica' on WIRL .

Olivier's last statement is borne out by the first two photos below.  "Jamaica Treasure" and "Sunny Jamaica", release on WIRL, are the same LP with different titles and front jackets. The picture on the right shows that this repackaging was part of a series recognizing at least two sunny Caribbean islands on WIRL.
 
 

Two LPs by Lord Jellicoe on the Hilary label. First is "A Man and Calypso"   (1966), followed 
by "At The Sheraton"   (1965).

   

 


The songs on the former are mostly calypsos, while the latter features mentos. On both collections, the arrangement is electric guitar based. The "At The Sheraton" jacket scans come courtesy of Miss Pat, who, for 21 years, has been the producer of the longest running Jamaican Music radio show in Dublin. The label scan comes from an earlier edition of this LP, released on the WIRL label.

  Courtesy of Arthur Zimmerman of Jericho, New York, here are label scans of an eponymous Lord Jellicoe and his Calypso Monarchs LP that does not seem to correspond to the others above. Unfortunately, the jacket is lost.

Look closely at this jacket (courtesy of Dan Neely) and you'll see that "Big Bamboo", released on the Premiere and Federal Records labels, is also by Lord Jellicoe. Dennis Sindry is credited as the producer on this 1965 LP. But play it and you will hear that its actually a compilation of calypso-y tracks, many of which would eventually appeared on the  2003 CD release, "Rookumbine". Olivier Albot, who pointed this out, also provides the track listing below:
 
1. ? - The Big Bamboo
2. Lord Flea - The Naughty Little Flea
3. Count Premier - The Village Ram
4. ? - The Two Little Flies
5. Lord Lebby - Green Guava (Green Guava Dumplin)
6. Count Premier - The Lost Watch (Amelia)
7. Count Premier - Lovely Watermelon (Watermelon Man)
8. ? - Shame And Scandal
9. Count Premier - Rucumbine
10. Count Premier - My Pussin
11. ? - The Seven Bells
12. ? - May May
13. Count Premier - Reincarnation (Bed Bug)

Sadly "Lord Jellicoe" Barker passed away in 2001. Visit the web site of his son, Bingie Barker, at http://www.bingiebarker.com/In_Tribute.htm for a contemporary photo of Lord Jellicoe.

Two Lord Jellicoe tracks, "Zombie Jamboree   (Back To Back)" and "Big Bamboo", can be heard on the 2006 CD compilation "Dip And Fall Back".

Duke LPs

Jamaica Duke, Duke and His Jamaica Five and Duke Harris -- I haven't sorted this out, but these are two or three different mento acts. There have been times where fans of Treasure Island rock steady have purchased these albums, mistakenly believing that these are the early works of producer Duke Reid. However, these mento Dukes are definitely unrelated Duke Reid.

   

Above is "Yellow Bird" by Jamaica Duke and the Mento Swingers -- a promising name and the jacket would lead you to expect some ribald songs. But the content of this LP on the Dynamic Sounds label turns out to be quite bland. The music is also quite tame, in spite of featuring banjo, violin and clarinet. Yet, there seems to be a relatively large number of this LP available on the internet and in used record stores, pointing to its popularity. To the the bottom right is "Yellow Bird" released on a nearly forgotten format -- mento on 8-track tape! Below, left is an autographed copy that reads, "Sincerely Yours, Jamaica Duke 27 Jan 1973 Montego Bay Jamaica".

 

 
The Mento Swingers:

Jamaica Duke - lead singer
Olia Gonzalez - clarinet
Charles Harrison - banjo
Vernal Vassel - violin
Percy Gayle - maracas
Alwyn Stanford - guitar
Paul Wilson - bass
Sidney Gregory - bongos
 

A different Jamaica Duke track can be heard on a newly released Trojan collection as seen on the Can I Buy Mento? page. "Jamaica Farewell" from this LP is included on the CD 2006 compilation "Dip And Fall Back".



Duke and His Jamaica
Five released at least two rural LPs:

 

"Kalypso and Ska", on the Kalypso label, is solid rural mento with good banjo playing . The closest this comes to ska is a sprightly rhythm on some tracks. There is no back cover -- flip the jacket over and there's the exact same image. A variation of the jacket can be seen to the right.

 

 

Left, courtesy of Miss Pat of Dublin, Ireland, are scans from "An Evening with Duke and his Jamaica Five at the Royal Caribbean Hotel", also on the Kalypso label. The back jacket is blank.

Right, are scans of the same LP but with a variant jacket that features the same image on the front and back.

The sound is similar to the "Kalypso and Ska" LP above. A number of songs of Trinidadian origin are featured, but the sound is strictly rural mento.

 

   

Here is an autographed copy of the jacket on the right. It appears to read: 

To Jerry it was nice meeting you and hope to see you some more.
Sincerely yours, Duke.



Duke Harris
recorded at least two LPs. Below is "Fun Under The Sun", on Kalypso/Federal. Duke's electric guitar is added to otherwise traditional rural mento instrumentation. Common mento songs, with a nod to Harry Belafonte's popularity, as well as some oddities, such as Bob Dylan's "Blowing In The Wind" are performed.
 
     

Another Duke Harris LP, "Jump and Sway Jamaica Way". Its similar in sound to the above LP. Although I have not heard this LP, the track "Jamaica Way", is probably the same recording that appeared on the 2004 compilation "Trojan Jamaica Box Set". The liner notes explain that Duke is the one pictured with the guitar and that he performed at the Playboy Club.
 
   



In 2013, I heard from Jerry Harris, reggae singer and the son of Duke Harris. First, he reported that the Port Antonio born Duke is currently living in the Bronx, NYC. Second, he revealed that he is a second generation mento artist who is involved in teaching the youth about mento. You can hear/see two of his songs on YouTube. His new songs, ''Mi Want Back Me Mento'' is a history of mento in song form. "Let's Go To Jamaica!", from 2012, recalls mento's history of tourist songs. Like his father, Jerry was born in Port Antonio but currently resides in the US.

Later, I heard from Jerry again with the sad news that his father, mento's Duke Harris,  passed on February 4, 2015.  

Denzil Laing, The Wrigglers and Arawak Hotel LPs

   

The front cover identifies this LP as, "Jamaica – Fabulous Island In The Sun ...A Fabulous Collection of Calypsos From Jamaica", and gives no indication of who the artist is. But the back cover and label tells a different story: the LP is, "Sings Again" by Denzil Laing and The Wrigglers

The sound is enjoyable but hard to classify as strictly rural or dance band. Hand drum, fife and maracas keep things at least partially grounded in mento's rural roots. But jazzy electric guitar replaces banjo and adds to a dance-band feel. Some tracks feature vibraphone   (!), but its not played in an overtly jazzy fashion. One track is a remake of their popular song "Mermaid", a version of which can be heard on one of the Valmark CDs. 

Incidentally, Denzil recorded a single on Kalypso at the end of the 1950s or the beginning of the 1960s that has been in print since, though his name has become detached from the recording.


   

At least two Latin music LPs were released from the Arawak hotel. This one, "Tropical Dance Party" keeps a foot in mento territory by employing Hubert Porter as the singer for the band   (Luther Williams and His Orchestra). Of the 18 tracks, 14 are merengue and cha cha instrumentals. The four with Hubert's vocals are "Seven Bells", "Reincarnation", "Water Melon" and "Shake Senora" -- familiar songs, but with a slick jazzy-Latin sound.


The Wrigglers Sing Calypso at the Arawak Hotel
is an LP that promotes the hotel more than the

 
band. A musical souvenir that infiltrates tourist's homes as a stealth hotel brochure. Musically, banjo is replaced with adroit jazzy electric guitar. Two more tracks that sound like they were recorded in the same session were release on a single.

Tower Isle LPs

Mento releases from Tower Isle hotel of Ocho Rios began in during the 1950s, as see on the More Golden Age Album scans page.   (Other examples can bee seen by searching the More Golden Age Singles scans page as well.) As a rule, Tower Isle mento is never rural. Harold Richardson and The Ticklers often played at the Tower Isle, and is sometimes featured as on these LPs.
 
  Courtesy of Generoso Fierro of Boston, a mento jazz LP on the Carib label: "Carnival at The Tower Isle", by Cecil Lloyd and His Orchestra . The notes show that Roy Shurland is the lead vocalist. The jacket also contain a few surprises. First, is that a female guitarist pictured? Dan Neely provides some info:

Janet Enright. She was a VERY well respected jazz guitarist in the 1950s who stopped playing almost entirely after she got married. I think she played with Don Drummond on and off throughout the 1950s.

Second, is the explanation that Jamaican calypso is called mento. But so polished is pianist Lloyd's group, that they play just a few mentos, veering off into a variety of other musical styles and material. Thanks for Brian Keyo of Massachusetts for dating this album as being from 1958.

Below, let, is the same album as released on a pair of 7" EPs. Below, right, shows that the Tower Isle Hotel still stands, though its been renamed "Couples Ocho Rios". Courtesy of Larry Maleszewski of the US is this photo of the hotel from 2004. Fifty years later after Tower Isle mento recordings first appeared, mento is still performed on those grounds.

 

   


Above is the "Tower Isle Hotel" LP on the Tower Isle label, by various artists.
Its a real mixed bag. From a mento perspective, there are two fine dance band mentos and a ska track   ("Nice Girl Ska", which is a ska rendition of "Brown Skin Gal") voiced by Harold Richardson. There's a song that veers more towards being cocktail jazz voiced by Harold's fellow Tickler, Donald Slue. There's also instrumental ska, cha cha, meringue and, some genuine vocal schmaltz by one Louis Sparks. The back cover is blank. The front cover is blank but for an emblem glued onto the jacket.

Below, photos courtesy of Olivier Albot   (with an assist from Laurent Pfeiffer) are the Tower Islanders  LPs " Calypso" and "Calypso Volume 2".

 

   

 
Above is "Calypso" (or "Ska and Calypso" according to the label), on the Tower Isle label. Although I have not heard these LPs, the liner notes above are pretty good, listing all the musicians and explaining the relationship between musical groups Harold Richardson and the Ticklers and The Tower Islanders. It also includes a group photo, but its quite small and difficult to make out. Too bad it wasn't chosen as the cover image, but apparently it was more important to have a picture of the hotel and the odd illustration of the Mexican looking chap.   The Tower Islanders:
Cliff Beckford - pianist and leader
Fred Parkins - bass
Frank O'Sullivan - saxophone and clarinet
Aston Henry - drums
Charlie Sang - guitar
Louis Spark - vocalist

The Ticklers:
Harold Richardson (leader and lead
vocalist) and Charlie Shue (maracas)
along with Charlie Sang and Louis Spark

Below is "Calypso Volume 2", this time on the New York-based Fiesta label. The jacket has less info, no band photo, but an upgraded image of the hotel.

   

"Calypso Volume 2" features more dance-band mento, with piano and clarinet as featured instruments. In spite of the remaking a number of The Ticklers hits, neither vocalist appears to be Harold Richardson.

   
 
Above is the LP "The Tower Tornados at The Tower Isle Hotel". Careful reading of the back jacket's fine print dates this LP from the start of the 1970s. The Ticklers and The Tower Islanders have been replaced with a youthful looking band, The Tornados . Mento is pretty much gone as well, replaced by pop covers of rock hits, bland Latin, bland reggae, and "Yellow Bird" and "Sell The Pussy" done in a calypso style.

The five members of The Tornados include singer Lloyd Robinson, who recorded several well remembered rock steady and reggae tracks, as well as Charles Cameron, better known as ska harmonica player Charlie Organaire. 

Dennis Sindrey

Here are three middle period LPs by Dennis Sindry, Sindrey or Syndre: "The Pill", "Hot Calypsos Under The Sun" and "A 'Treasure Chest' of Caribbean Calypsos".
The jackets present a contrast befitting mento, as one is topical, the second goes for cultural and the third is ribald. I have not heard the music on "The Pill". But as for the other two, as was the case with his earliest recordings, as heard on the golden age collection, Rookumbine, the music of Dennis S, to my ears, is more calypso than mento. Both covers state that the label is Federal, but the label itself has the mid-period Kalypso logo. Both back covers are autographed by Dennis to the vacationing Frank. The arrangements are more polished and a bigger band is heard.

   

 

Thanks again to Brian Keyo, not only for this picture of Dennis Sindrey from 7/11/02, but for personally confirming this spelling with the artist. The very next day, Dennis was part of Lord Tanamo's mento combo at the Legends of Ska concert.

 


Brian further explains that Dennis is Australian and came to JA with a group of Australian musicians in the late 50s. Dennis now resides in Florida.

The popularity of "The Pill" and "Treasure Chest" was at least in part due to the cover model, who was known as "Madam Wasp". In May of 2006 I heard from her daughter, Nadine Taylor, who was kind enough to provide the following info. Madam's real name was Elizabeth Cespedes-Brady, who was known to be a Rhumba Queen in addition to being a model for calypso albums jackets. She is Jamaican and now resides in Canada. She comes from Cuban and Asian   (Indian) background. Her beauty and flexibility in dance was attestable to the gifts and talents she inherited from a combination of these cultures. She married Carl Brady of Byron Lee's Dragonaires.   (Carl is still an active member of this venerable band.)

 

See also:

For more more label and jacket scans and song clips, also see this site's:

 

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mike@mentomusic.com

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