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A Question for The Man

Posted by angel gabriel 
A Question for The Man
January 10, 2006 03:06AM
Hello Mr Observer,

I am just curious how you got started collecting jamaican music. I gather that you have been doing it for a long time. When you were getting started, where you just buying whatever you could get your hands on at the time? How did you obtain your massive collection? Was it mostly singles?..UK press or JA press? Was it weekly trips to the store to see what came in?..etc

Just wondering..

angel gabriel
The man
Re: A Question for The Man
January 10, 2006 04:47AM
The story is too long to tell, Mr Gabriel. Suffice to say I was collecting US R&B music as an 11 year old, heavily into Hank Ballard And the Midnighters, Solomon Burke, Chuck Jackson and the few doo wop records I heard by the likes of The Marcels, Rosie And The Originals, Rochelle And The Candle, Maurice Williams And the Zodiacs etc. I used to buy my records from a stall in Hackney's Ridley Road market run by a guy called Nat. This guy had a small clientele of West Indian buyers, specifically Jamaicans, and one day when I went there to purchase 'Blue Angel' by Roy Orbison he was playing these obscure records by guys with names like Beresford Rickets, Jackie Edwards, Owen Grey, Theo Beckford etc. I used to get these back copies of US trade mags like Billboard and Cashbox but didn't recognise these names, not even in the bottom reaches of the Hot 100. I asked the guy where these records were from and he said Jamaica. I laughed at him. "They don't make records in Jamaica," I said.

Soon after I started buying these records, most of which were released on the Blue Beat label, some on Island, Dice and Starlite. I would watch what the Jamaican guys were buying and purchased what they liked. I bought records there from 1961 until 1967, when I suddenly got into the Doors and the whole US rock scene. Following the second Crosby, Stiils & Nash album in the early 1970s, which I hated, I started getting back into the music I'd loved as a youth, ie R&B, rock 'n' roll and ska and reggae. In 1973, I started writing about reggae for the British rock press and by 1975 had met many UK based reggae acts. At this time old ska and reggae singles could be purchased at 3p or 10p apiece, and one shop in Clapham was selling 100 Blue Beat and Fab releases for £1, ie 1p each. I bought thousands of these, plus hundreds of Bamboo and Banana releases at 10p each. On top of this, I was getting free copies of most of the records released in the UK, plus pre releases for my weekly reviews. By 1980 I'd built up my collection and have been adding to it ever since.

Re: A Question for The Man
January 10, 2006 05:52AM
to the man,
interesting story,
will there more?
( hope so )
Re: A Question for The Man
January 10, 2006 08:27PM
you have to give it up for the man he know this music for real ,i remember outside jessus record shop in the bush ,there was a secondhand shop sold a mint of those old tunes about 73-75 time ,and you could send of a get 50 or so pama oldies for a few quid! what would thay be worth now ,who would guessed back then
Re: A Question for The Man
January 11, 2006 02:55PM
Thanks Penny,

It is amazing how many enter reggae music from the soul side. It is also seems to be a consistent story that you could buy older reggae,ska, and rocksteady singles for very little at one time. I wonder if I would have had the foresight to experiment like that when I was first getting into the music. I have heard of collectors getting 10 singles per pound sterling (at least for one US collector) even into the early 70s.

Thanks for the information - any other stories of collecting or how you refined your tastes within Jamaican music would be very appreciated.


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