In 1964 it seemed for a moment that ska was making an international breakthrough,
when Millie Small scored a massive, world wide hit (the first by a Jamaican) with the
ska style cover of Barbie Gaye's R&B song 'My Boy Lollipop'. The record sold over six
million world wide, reached number two in the UK chart and was in the top five in the
USA. Her sound was called bluebeat, a term that needs some explanation. Actually,
Blue Beat was the name of a UK licensing label. Such was the company status within
the UK black music world, that for a number of years the name Blue Beat became
synonymous with Jamaican music, from JA boogie to ska to rocksteady - whether it
was actually on the label or not. When I use the word bluebeat, I mean the commercially
produced, fast ska sound in the style of Millie.
Five years later reggae seemed to make a breakthrough with Desmond Dekkers's
'Israelites'. It hit number one in Canada, Sweden, West Germany, Holland and South
Africa of all places. It also became a huge hit in Great Britain. But even in Britain ska,
rocksteady and reggae remained underground music, that was particularly popular in
the West-Indian community and amongst mods and later skinheads.
Except for these two world hits, Americans and Europeans did not often come into
contact with ska and reggae. They might happen on it during visits in Jamaica or
London. And when they bought records, they took the music back to their homelands.
Sometimes Jamaican artists toured abroad. Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, Prince
Buster, the Blues Busters, Carlos Malcom & his Afro-Jamaican Rhythms, Sonny
Bradshaw and Winston Francis called in on North America. And Prince Buster, Jimmy
Cliff en Owen Grey, for example, combined their tours in Great Britain with concerts on
the European continent. Sporadically, UK hits were also released in Europe and the
USA. But that was it.
The pictures on this site are picture sleeves of singles and covers of albums that were
released in the 1960's and early 1970's. More recent releases, like compilation LP's or
CD's, will not be mentioned. The world wide web is often a meeting place for facts and
pictures of little relevance, and this site is no exception! The music I will be discussing
is of differing standards. I would be the last to deny that the music of Jamaica itself is
the real thing. Nevertheless I hope that ska-maniacs, sixties-freaks, vinyl-junks and
other music lovers in the world will appreciate this site.
Twenty years of strolling around flea markets, second hand shops, at record fairs and -
more recently - on internet have availed me of a fine record collection. But I do not
pretend that, during my research, I came across everything that has ever been made.
That's why I call on everybody to contribute in pictures and texts. Because the picture is
not complete by far - if it ever will be.