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Arthur Knibbs  

 

Last revised: 8/26/12

 

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Background

Arthur Knibbs has a career that makes us wish he recorded more. Though his three golden age singles (on the MRS label, backed by Cecil Knott and His Joybell Orchestra) were too few, they were good enough to warrant a separate page for this artist. 

These tracks that blur the line between classic and dance band mento, as jazzy piano (played by Cecil Knott, better know as Cecil Lloyd) and rural banjo are on equal footing. Arthur Knibbs features a distinctive, relaxed vocal style. This mix made for a very appealing act. But, sadly Arthur Knibbs has not yet made appeared on CD.

Arthur also recorded at least one 1960s single and a hotel LP (as King Arthur).


Thank you to Arthur's daughter, Shaun Knibbs, for supplying this photograph of her father and providing the following information:

Arthur Knibbs was born June 26, 1929 in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. He played the maracas in his band and he was the lead singer. He played at the Bay Roc Hotel in Montego Bay and also at the Runaway Bay Hotel and other places too. He spent several years with his band working in Lima , Peru. (He spoke fluent Spanish.) He died from a brain aneurysm on May 24, 1975.

Here is a picture of Cecil Lloyd Knott from the late 1950s.
In addition to recording straight jazz, he more than dabbled
in jazzy mento as can be seen on this site's
Mento Music: More Middle Period Album Scans page, and
Mento Music: Mento and Jazz page.

 

Golden Age Singles and sound clips

  Both sides baring the legend, "Jamaican Mento", indicating that they are old folk songs rather than new compositions, here  is a Arthur Knibbs / Cecil Knott and His Joybell Orchestra single:

"Banana"     b/w    "Soldier Man"


 
  Here is the same single, but this time re-released as a 7" 45 RPM single, rather than the more familiar 10" 78 RPM form factor.

"Banana" is a fine example of this oft recorded song. Because its a favorite of mine, was not in print, when I posted this clip, here is a sample of "Banana".  [Click here for notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.] The track can now be heard on the double CD collection called "Jamaica - Mento 1951-1958 as seen here.

A single with two medleys by Arthur Knibbs and Cecil Knott and His Joybell Orchestra: 

"Teacher Lick The Gal; Ada"  
  b/w:
"Sammy Dead; Get Up Adina; Mr. Ramgoat, Oh"


The "Jamaican Mento" legend from the above single lacking, but these are all old folk songs. Four of the five songs on this single can also be found on Edric Connor's 1952 LP, "Songs From Jamaica". The fifth, "Get Up Adina", later became a hit for Sugar Belly. "Teacher Lick The Gal" is a fine example of this oft recorded song. Because its a favorite of mine, and is not in print, here is a song clips for "Teacher Lick The Gal; Ada".  [Click here for notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.]



 
Two two-song medleys : 

"When You Come America; Cowhead" 
  b/w:
"Belly Lick; Bargie"
 

"When You Come America" is a tourist song and could be the only original that Knibbs recorded. "Cowhead" is the familiar song, "Ten Penny Nail", Both "Belly Lick" and "Bargie" are popular mentos." Because its a favorite of mine, and is not in print, here is a song clips for "Belly Lick".  [Click here for notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.]

1960s Single

  On the Carl's label is a 1960s single by King Arthur Knibbs and Native Band:

"Island in the Sun" backed with "Jamaica Farewell".

 


"Island in the Sun" begins and ends with an identified woman providing a spoken word introduction over the sound of surf. Its a soulful rendition of this oft recorded song. Both songs feature with rural mento instrumental with the addition of prominent Hawaiian (!) guitar.

To the right is the same single in an "Island Music Souvenir" postcard-like mailing sleeve.

 

   Here is a more complete view of a less well preserved, different colored specimen of the sleeve.

1960s LP

                
 

On the 1960's version of the Kalypso label "Runaway Bay Hotel Jamaica" by King Arthur and The Ad Libs.  This is a typical hotel album of mento's middle period. As was too often the case, the notes do a better job of advertising the hotel than describing the musicians. The repertoire adds nothing new since the 1950s. As you can see from the detail of the front jacket, this is a rural mento group. (Arthur is standing leftmost.) The band is quite good, with playful banjo and Arthur's  
relaxed vocals. This LP is in stereo, whereas most middle period mento LPs were not, perhaps indicating that this was released late in the 1960s or early in the 1970s. Two covers are of interest: "Something Has Change Me" is the early Wailers song "Your Love". And more surprising is that "John B" is The Beach Boys' "Sloop John B" (unless you are aware that this song was a West Indian folk song long before The Beach Boys recorded it). 

Newspaper Clippings

Thanks to Richard Noblett of London for the following newspaper clippings.

 

From February 26, 1954:

Two of Arthur Knibbs' 78 RPM singles with Cecil Knott and His Joybell Orchestra appear in this add for "lively M.R.S. Calypsos from Stanley Motta".

From June 11, 1956:

"Arthur Knibbs received a thunderous ovation from the cosmopolitan crowd" in St. Ann and won the right to compete against The Silver Seas Calypso Band for "1956 Calypo Band Champions of Jamaica". The "foot high Calypso Cigar Challenge Cup" is at stake.

 

From August 26, 1958:

The first big group of summer tourists arrives at Montego Bay, and they are entertained at customs by "the lilting calypsos of Arthur Knibbs and His Merry Knights".

 

From October 5, 1964:

 

The five-piece Arthur Knibbs and His Merry Knights" returns from a five month engagement in Lima Peru, their third trip there.

 

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mike@mentomusic.com

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