LYNN TAITT & THE JETS – EL CASINO ROYALE

lynn taitt el casino royale

A: Lynn Taitt & The Jets & Cool Sticky – El Casino Royale

B: Lynn Taitt & The Jets & Cool Sticky – Dee’s Special

 

Lynn Taitt. Hailing from Trinidad and bringing with him a bag of fresh ideas and infusing the Jamaican music scene with new influences, this multi instrumentalist has been greatly involved and partly responsible for the many changes Jamaican music was going through from the mid sixties onward. Playing with his own orchestra, supporting well known calypso singers,  Taitt toured the Caribbean before he got stranded in Jamaica in 1963. Through Byron Lee he then joined a few local bands – The Sheiks, The Cavaliers – before setting up Lynn Taitt and the Comets with whom he backed ska artists such as The Maytals. In 1966 Taitt landed a job at Federal studios and renamed his group The Jets, which was more a studio band than a live band. Comprised of Taitt, Hux Brown, Gladdy Anderson, Bryan Atkinson, Joe Isaacs, Headley Bennett, Bobby Ellis, Carlton Samuels, Lennox Brown and Jerry Geary; it was under this moniker that the band recorded its most famous tracks. Much has been written about the greatness of Lynn Taitt & Jets since then – Skatalites manager Brian Keyo’s tribute makes for a great, insightful read – and listening to Dee’s Special and El Casino Royale should be more than enough to uphold the gospel that the group was indeed second to none.

UziahStickyThompson_Abby_Ross

Uziah Thompson by Abby Ross

Another artist that was well influential on the Jamaican scene but with far less credit received, is Uziah ‘Sticky’ Thompson. Having played on hundreds, if not thousands of reggae songs – including ‘Soul Rebel,’ ‘Beat Down Babylon,’ ‘How Could I leave,” ‘Natty never get weary‘ and many more – Sticky was involved in Jamaican music from very early on. The first record Sticky played on was The Techniques’ “Little did you know” (Treasure Isle 1965) on which he goes nearly berserk on the wood blocks, giving it an even more galloping feel than the ska beat already manages to do. In keeping with his job as a percussionist Uziah Thompson used his voice as a percussion instrument also. As Cool Sticky he was very popular as a soundsystem deejay because he would grace the music with various scats and sounds that would further enhance the power of the music. Coxsone Dodd thought it great an art too and was the first to record him in this mould, making Sticky the first deejay ever to be recorded on wax: Guns of Navarone – The Skatalites. Listening to that song or ‘Ball of Fire”, it’s not hard to imagine a dancehall being ripped to shreds by sheer enthusiasm. Sticky’s performance really is contagious.

A few years later, ska had made way for rocksteady and Cool Sticky was well established as the prime choice percussionist for many a producer and musician, including Lynn Taitt who would often ask Sticky for his services. Like he did for the recording of the two tracks on display here. Although uncredited, again, that’s Cool Sticky on the mic on ‘Dee’s Special’ – which itself is a version of the great but impossible to find Dynamics song ‘My Friends‘. Making less use of the vocal sounds he was known for in the ska days, Cool Sticky materializes as a confident deejay, riding the riddim to full effect and inviting his crowd to grab a gyal and dance. Extra credit goes to Gladdy Anderson for the superfunky licks he lays down on the organ.

lynn taitt dee's specialOn the flip Cool Sticky is back with his trademark sounds, giving El Casino Royale the spiciness that makes it so goddamn hot and tasty.  Just like the Stranger and Gladdy song he is riding, El Casino has been a favourite among reggae fans ever since it came out. Deservedly so, I’d say. But what is he saying? For the life of me I can’t make out the lyrics. I guess Ian Fleming’s first book might have been an influence, or maybe the James Bond spoof by the same name that was released a year prior to this record. Perhaps Sticky is saying something about baccarat? The gambling game is very important in both the book and the film and was very popular at the time. That said, I still don’t hear a connection between the game, Bond and Sticky’s repeated line in the song.. If anyone knows, please let me know?

When reggae hit the town, Lynn Taitt had left the island for Canada, but Cool Sticky went on to record for Scratch, Harry Mudie, himself (on the Sticks label), JJ and Joe Gibbs, among others. For the latter he cut the superb Train to Soulsville (on which he is credited) and the obscure, but gorgeous roots tune  “Dem say mi say” which came out on the Five O label.  As a member of The Revolutionaries and The Professionals and touring and recording with Ziggy Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Black Uhuru, Sticky and his art never ceased to be important, influential and top ranking.

Uziah Thompson died in august 2014, aged 78. May he rest in peace.

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Label: Amalgamated (Ja) / Amalgamated / Trojan (Uk)
Release date: 1968
Riddim: Just like a river- Stranger & Gladdy / My Friend – The Dynamics
Matrix: WIRL JG 3687 / 3688

Posted: 01-03-2015

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