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Pressure Beat mixes
About Pressure Beat
I don’t know what it is, but as of late I just keep on stumbling on wrongly credited Jogibs discs. So far they’ve always turned out a real treat, but the one featured here is the icing on the cake, as far as I’m concerned. And not because it reveals a really obscure track (wich it both does and doesn’t, depending on the way you look at it) but merely because it unearths a whole new genre. Well, new to me anyway.
Being a reggae fan, I learned soon enough that the basis of reggae is deeply rooted in mento, calypso and R&B. But, as it turns out and in line with the natural order of things, even roots music has its roots. And, in case of mento and calypso, that particular root is called: quadrille.
Quadrille came to exist in the 17th century, within military parades, in which four horsemen and their mounts performed special square-shaped formations or figures……This performance became very popular, which led people to perform a quadrille without horses. In the 18th Century (estimated around 1740) the quadrille evolved more and more in an intricate dance, with its foundation in dances like cotillions. It was introduced in France around 1760, and later in England around 1808…
The quadrille was now a lively dance with four couples, arranged in the shape of a square, with each couple facing the center of that square. One pair was called the head couple, the other pairs the side couples. A dance figure was often performed first by the head couple, and then repeated by the side couples. (source: Wikipedia)
When quadrille finally reached the shores of the Caribbean it blended with the African heritage of the slaves and became a whole new kind of music. Therefore I’d never have guessed there would be a band in Jamaica that would even consider the possibility of playing this music in 1972. I know there were bands around playing the hotel circuit with mento (always and still a popular style) and calypso, but playing the actual European quadrille when reggae was firmly taking over? No way. I guessed wrong, though…
Irony has it that one of the first examples I found of Jamaican groups playing quadrille in Jamaica in the 70’s, was of a band called the McBeth Orchestra. This group, consisting of McBeth (banjo), Ruben White (trumpet), Melburn Reynolds (saxophone), Cleveland Reynolds (bass), Edga Murry (guitar), Neville Johnson (drums) and Arthur Masters (vocals) released an album called “The good old days quadrille” in the early 70’s on… Joe Gibbs Record Globe (!)
Naturally, my first thought was that my uncredited 7inch was taken from this lp. Although I’m dead sure I saw this album in a record store in Copenhagen a few years ago, I couldn’t check if this was true because I left it there eating dust. Some serious extensive googling and 35 pages of crap results later, I finally found a snippet of one of the tracks of the lp. Listening to it immediately shattered my aforementioned hypothesis. Although undeniably a showcase for quadrille, the sound of the snippet was way to crisp in comparison to what I’d just bought. Being lured deeper and deeper into http://www.mentomusic.com, the site where I had found the information about The good old days quadrille, I happened to accidentally trip over the answer to the question who’s playing the backing on this record.
As it turns out, there were actually a few people in Jamaica who played quadrille in the early 70’s, but the most prolific of them was a man called Naaman Lee. This musician released a bunch of tracks under different names and on a variety of labels throughout the decade. Some of it was mento, some of it was reggae, but his most succesfull tune apears to be a straight forward quadrille track: “Quadrille Beat” was released under the Old Timers monniker on the Mascot label in 1972 and was repressed for several years thereafter. It’s a 6 movement instrumental quadrille which can easily be obtained through eBay or other online record stores. Apparently, there is also a vocally enhanced version of Quadrille Beat out there, which is not so easy to get your hands on as it is issued on a wrongly credited Jogibs label. Indeed, it’s the version you’re reading up on on this page.
I wrote ‘enhanced version’ because the deejay on this ‘special’ is certainly adding to the original. Calling out the figures over the waltzing rhythms, he manages to rev things up to an almost ska-like recording. If anything, this version perfectly emphasises the role of the toaster on a soundsystem, because the Joe Gibbs version of ‘Quadrille Beat’ is much more inviting and outgoing. It makes me wonder why no one ever released it like this from the get go.
But who’s to get credit for that effort? The seller of the disc said he had a clue about the dj but couldn’t put his finger on it. I’m not sure either, but my finger points towards Delroy Jones. His sometimes stumbling slurr, intonation, high pitched “eey‘ and his perfectly crafted ability to make a dancehall move and twist, match awfully well with other tunes he recorded on wax for Joe Gibbs. The similarity in style and delivery is striking if you ask me.
Whoever voiced this special and obscure treat is perhaps forever the question, but I’m grateful it exists. Not just because I dig the tune and I am very happy to be able to add it to my collection, but because it enabled me to read up on a whole new genre and learn a thing or two. And that is the true power of undiscovered wax….
Label: Jogibs (Ja)
Release date: 1972 (?)
Matrix: 7JG-8083 FRM
(originally posted on 09-11-11)
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