On the evening of August 6, 1962 Britain’s Princess Margaret ordered the lowering of the Union Jack and Jamaica’s black, green and gold flag was hoisted for the first time. The symbolic gesture officially made Jamaica an independent nation. Among the thousands who witnessed the historic event at Kingston’s new National Stadium was young Tad Dawkins.
“My father was a policeman and he was on duty at the stadium that day, so I got to go and see everything,” Dawkins recalled.
Fifty years later, Dawkins is head of Tad’s Record, one of the leading reggae distributors. He is celebrating his country’s Golden Jubilee with the commemorative ‘Jamaica 50th: Then and Now’, an album looking at the evolution of Jamaican music over the last five decades.
According to Dawkins, the mix of Mento, Ska, Rock Steady, Reggae and Dancehall, is a fitting tribute to Jamaica’s diverse music culture.
“We covered a lot of ground to get the songs right. It should be something people can buy 50 years from now,” he said.
Several of the songs including ‘Sweet Sweet Jamaica’ by George Nooks, ‘Jamaica 50’ by Mackie Conscious and Chetenge’s ‘Over 50’, were done specifically for Jamaica’s Golden Jubilee.
Most of the tracks, however, are pop standards recorded in the 1960s when Ska, Rock Steady and Reggae were conceived. Not to be left out is Dancehall, the most commercially successful of Jamaica’s pop music forms. Mento and Gospel are also strongly represented.
“We had to give a variety that speaks to the country’s music, where it’s coming from and where it stands presently,” Dawkins explained.
Among the modern hits are the Dennis Brown ‘Prayer’ ‘Love and Hate’, ‘Night Nurse’ by Gregory Isaacs, ‘Buddy Bye’ from Johnny Osbourne and ‘God is Standing By’, Nooks’ Reggae version of soul singer Al Green’s Gospel song.
An interesting inclusion is the Blues Busters, a Jamaican duo who had a string of soul-inspired hits during the 1960s.
Their contribution to ‘Jamaica 50th’ is a stirring 23-song medley produced by Dawkins over 30 years ago.
The ‘Busters’ deliver handsomely on songs like Desmond Dekker’s ‘Israelites’, Eric ‘Monty’ Morris’ ‘Oil in my Lamp’, ‘By the Rivers of Babylon’originally done by The Melodians, and ‘Johnny Too Bad’, the rudeboy classic by The Slickers.
Mento, which has made a comeback in recent years, gets its due through Larry and the Mento Boys who do four songs including ‘My Native Land’ and‘Take Her To Jamaica’.
Dancehall music has not looked back since it made Billboard charts regularly in the 1990s. The genre gets its due here with songs by Terry Linen ‘Praise Ye the Lord’; Turbulence’s with ‘X-Girlfriend’ and Vybz Kartel who does ‘You Can’t Say’.
‘Jamaica’s 50th: Then and Now’, a Tad’s Record production, will be available digitally and on compact on July 24.
For more information on Jamaica’s 50th: Then and Now’ and Tad’scomplete catalogue, contact Tad’s Record (Miami) at 305-654-6130 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Tads’ Record (Kingston) at 876-929-2563 email@example.com, or visit www.tadsrecord.com.