Big Shot: A SKA/Reggae/Rocksteady Blog

Posted by Amoebite, December 16, 2011 12:04pm | Post a Comment
Los Angeles has such a unique Reggae scene with various clubs and shows paying homage to the Reggae Scene. New artists and bands are popping up all the time...and the Reggae Community is active and supported. Many DJs spin SKA, Rocksteady and Reggae. However, outside California (and some large cities such as Chicago, New York and across the pond in Spain) the Ska/Reggae scenes are deteriorating. Within these cities there are still Reggae labels such as Liquidator in Spain and Jump-Up Records in Chicago which is run by Chuck Ren who renewed the Ska scene in the Mid-West. NY/NJ based Stubborn Records is a DIY label run by King Django, a legend in the Ska scene who has been in such bands as the Stubborn Allstars and Skinnerbox. Django has run the label independently for over 15 years. In Oklahoma, Megalith Records is a fairly new label run by Robert "Bucket" Hinley, the lead singer of The Toasters and who helped start Moon Ska Records in NY...

Speaking of labels, this blog is named after Big Shot Records which went from 1968
to 1971. Big Shot was a subsidiary of Trojan Records that started in 1968, gaining popularity with releases from Judge Dread and The Tennors. Big Shot released over 130 45RPM singles and a handful of LP releases. The label itself has stayed active due to the popularity of Judge Dread and the iconic image of the Big Shot cannon. Most modern Reggae labels try to achieve the visibility that Trojan Records has and garner the appeal to counter culture kids as Big Shot did in 1968.

Peter ToshPeter Tosh - Legalize It (legacy Edition) [CD] 

35 years later Peter Tosh's debut album Legalize It, gets a makeover. Remastered and deluxe edition with tons of extra bonus tracks, original mixes, demos and dubplates.
  • Originally recorded at Treasure Isle and Randy's in 1976.
  • Self-produced, featuring Rita Marley and Judy Mowett

Peter Tosh - Burial Dub

Peter Tosh - Why Must I Cry?

Smooth Beans -
AT Low Fyah! CDSmooth Beans

This German Ska band has only been active a few short years and is already making waves in the Reggae scene. Taking nods from Hepcat and Symarip, Smooth Beans blends in rocksteady, skinhead reggae and a bit of spaghetti western to the mix.  At Low Fyah! is solid and fresh. 

Los Granadians Del Espacio Exterior Donde Ningun Hombre Ha Llegado Jamas

Reggae is huge in all Spanish-speaking countries. Almost every genre within modern Latin music has some nod to Reggae, whether it be the Ska-Core groups, Reggaeton, Digital Cumbia, Hip-Hop and even some of the lightweight Spanish pop. Not too many groups venture into Traditional Ska and Rocksteady though. There are some that I’ve heard, such as some of the excellent bands out of Mexico like Jamaica 69 (Matehuala), Los 4 Vientos (San Luis Potosi), and The Riddim Cats (Monterey), who skip the punk/ska fusion and go for the sound made famous by labels like Studio One and Trojan Records.

Los Granadians Del Espacio Exterior from Spain replicates that '60s Jamaican sound perfectly. On their latest release, Donde Ningun Hombre Ha Llegado Jamas (Where No Man Has Gone Before) Los Granadians blend their vintage Rocksteady rhythms with playful Spanish lyrics and a hint of good ol’fashion Mersey-style rock. This is what I think a '60s Spanish Rock band like Los Yorks would have sounded like if they went to Jamaica and hung out at the many Studio One recording sessions. Outside of the language you could swear this band came from the '60s Jamaica.

The thing I like about this band is that they can sing as well as swing. Most of the retro Ska and Reggae groups play well but falter on the vocals, forgetting what crooners people like Derrick Williams and Desmond Dekker were. I think that’s why I really like these guys. There’s your Hepcat and Los Granadians and then there is everyone else. Period.  -- Review By: Gomez Comes Alive

Dave Barker and Los Granadians
Dave Barker & Los Granadians - Peach Green Reggae 7"

Side A is Peach Green Reggae and continuing with Dave Barker's Rocksteady sound and soulful voice. He serves up this sweet groove backed by the Spanish Ska Group Los Granadians.

Side B is Monster and in true Skinhead Reggae '69 fashion.

Dave Barker & Los Granadians - Peach Green Reggae

Recent Ska/Reggae/Rocksteady Releases: 

Studio One Story - Studio One Story [CD/DVD & Book] [LP]
(Studio One/SoulJazz)

Holly Cook - Holly Cook [CD & LP]
(Mr. Bongo)

Roy Ellis - The Boss is Back [CD]

Carlos Dingo - Ska is Dangerous [CD]

Story of Blue Beat - Story of Blue Beat: Best in Ska [DBL CD]
(Sunrise Records)

8 Kalacas - 8 Kalacas [CD]

- By Tim Latham

Relevant Tags

Los Angeles (205), Ska (5), Reggae (20), Rocksteady (1), Liquidator Record (1), Jump-up Records (1), Stubborn Records (1), Megalith Records (1), Peter Tosh (3), Big Shot (1), Trojan Records (1), Smooth Beans (1), Los Granadians Del Espacio Exterior (1)