ERNEST RANGLIN (b. 1932 - )
SKA WEY DAT
* * * /
1998-1999 - Trojan - studio - discs:2
Ernest Ranglin was born on June 19, 1932 in the Manchester Parish, Jamaica. He was born surrounded by music with his uncles playing guitar and ukulele. As a teenager he joyned Val Bennett band. During this time, around the late 40's and early 50's, he played with many big bands including Eric Dean's Orchestra. Ska had yet come, Jazz was the sound of the time and Ernest soon got a good reputation in the music business. He was featured on some of the earliest recordings in Jamaica. In 1959 he joyned the bass player Cluett Johnson with the latter's Clue J And His Blues Blasters. At the same time he also worked with the legendary Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd at the Jamaican Broadcasting Corporation and became the musical director for Ken Khouri's Federal Records. He also worked for another legend of the Jamaican music: Prince Buster. In that same year his "Shuffling Jug" credited to Clue J And His Blues Blasters and considered by many as the first Ska single hit the island. During the 60's he cut some acclaimed Jazz sets (as "Wranglin'", "Guitar In Ernest" and "Reflections") but he also kept playing Ska and Rocksteady. Duke Reid made Ernest the musical director for his Treasure Isle's recording studio. In 1964 Ernest was along with Joe Higgs responsible of the Wailers early material. He arranged their early material as "It Hurts To Be Alone" (their very first song), "Simmer Down" and "I'm Still Waiting". During that same year he also arranged the mega-hit "My Boy Lollipop" by Millie. As the new decade came in Ranglin worked for some rising names as Lee "Scratch" Perry and Clancy Eccles. These two created "Say What You're Saying" by Monty Morris and "Feel The Rhythm" by Eccles. Ernest eas there playing guitar and arranging the tracks. He claims that these two were the first Reggae singles. In 1973 he was awarded the Order Of Distinction by the Jamaican Government. Ranglin has been a seminal figure inside the history of Jamaican music. Ernest Ranglin has played with the Skatalites, The Melodians ("Rivers Of Babylon"), The Congos ("Heart Of The Congos" album), Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear, Cedric "Im" Brooks, The Heptones, Leroy Smart, The Royals, George Faith, The Gladiators, Jimmy Cliff, Max Romeo, Pat Kelly, Keith Hudson and many many many more. Just to name a few. The list is so long that it would take a whole site to recall all the artists Ernest worked with. This double Cds collects two sets. The first is "E.B. @ Noon" (also known as "Ska Way Dat") from 1999. The second one is called "Ernest Ranglin In O.D.", a live set recorded in 1998 at the Reggae On The River festival , California. The present collection is not the right place to start for appreciating and understanding what Ernest Ranglin is. Actually is not particularly impressive. But there is a huge gem here. "Like Immigrants" from the first set is unbelievable. This is Jazz, Soul, with an Ernest's delicate Jamaican sound within. This is something that cannot be described so easily. Just listen to it and let yourself loose through the neverending patterns made by the saxophone and the guitar. As the strings from the background take the front line and increase there is a unique communion of feelings. The organ plays the base on which the bass develops a musical building that brings together the overriding instruments. A perfect combination of players arranged together. A stellar instrumental. The second CD is a impressive live recording. The backing band is Floyd Lloyd's Ska Band. The special guest is the legendary Cedric "'Im" Brooks that delivers a five stars of the Abyssinians classic "Satta Massagana". The performance is very good, with a couple of instrumentals that deserve the right attention. The concert opens with "Surfing", an old tune originally cut at Studio One. Follows a version of Toots & The Maytals "54 - 46 Was My Number". The third track is "Bourbon Street Skank". Than it is time for "Satta Massagana". Marvellous, slow and highly engageing. Follows "Ball Of Fire", a tribute to the great Roland Alphonso. Enters Floyd Lloyd that joins the frontline on vocals for the remaining tracks. The first song is "Headline News". It is followed by "Say Bye Bye", a composition by Eric "Monty" Morris. The third track with Lloyd is called "Sweet Lady". This song was a hit by The Mighty Diamonds that appeared in their "Planet Earth" album. It is followed by "Ska Party". The following song is "(It's Only A) Papaer Moon". Follows "You're For Real". The last song is called "The Whip Medley". Based on the Ethiopians' "The Whip" but also including Derrick Harriott and Junior Murvin hit "Solomon". The present double CD is not exactly the first step to be introduced to Ernest Ranglin incredible career. We should head for far older material to understand the stature of this milestone inside the Jamaican history. But even here at fiftysix Ernest is still strong.