The release of this compilation by DJ Sipreano on the breaks label Light In The Attic, caused a bit of a stir when it came out last month.
Why it should take more than thirty years for someone to recognise there was more to the Toronto music scene than just Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot back in the day struck a note with current artists, especially as it took a label from Seattle to release the CD.
In fact, it was the reissue on LITA of Wayne McGhie and The Sounds Of Joy album a couple of years ago that lead to this further investigation by Vancouver resident, Sipreano (aka Kevin Howes). Even so, McGhie is over this CD like a rash producing, performing or writing six of the sixteen tracks and he was one of the city’s leading lights at the time.
As it’s only a relatively short distance from Motown to Toronto, so it’s no real surprise the Jamaican exiles were looking to break the north American scene with their soul and funk interpretations. McGhie’s ‘Fire (She Need Water)’ is possibly the best of the bongo breaks funky soul to have an island feel to it, along with, The Cougars (‘I Wish It Would Rain’ is “big” soul)
Most of the tracks are obvious attempts at ‘pure’ Motown/Radio play lists, like the two Eddie Spencer tracks. Equally good is the ‘northern’ Jo-Jo Bennett with ‘Chips – Chicken – Banana Split‘ and the opener, named after the TV show, ‘The Fugitive’. It’s class tracks like these that keeps the crate digging scene alive and for the soul anoraks, there’s a fine cover of ‘I Believe In Music’ by “Toronto’s Sam & Dave”, Bob & Wisdom.
While sharper ears than mine might detect more Jamaican and Canadian accents, if you had only heard the reggae of Jackie ‘The Keyboard King At Studio One’ Mittoo, you’d be hard pressed to guess it was him on ‘Grand Funk’. There’s some suggestion Mittoo’s In London album wasn’t recorded in London at all but the sleeve notes tell us that Mittoo had a record shop in Toronto on Vaughan & Bathurst. And if it weren’t for Mittoo not using his studio time up in 1971, Lloyd Delpratt wouldn’t have recorded ‘Together’ included on the CD.
While this is another compilation without a duff track on it, perhaps the best is the roots reggae track by Noel Ellis. This was recorded well after all the other tracks (in 1983) and is the ‘result’ of all the work of the earlier artists. Noel is the son of reggae legend Alton Ellis (Toronto 1969-1971) who often worked with The Sounds Of Joy. ‘Memories’ is by far the longest track on the CD. Judging by Mossman Meets Vander album, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get remix the whole of Noel Ellis album.
Altogether Jamaica To Toronto is an excellent package with a well-written and informative booklet. I hope we’ll hear some more gems from the Toronto vaults but more importantly, let’s hope the musicians of today in Toronto (and elsewhere) will be inspired, especially soul, funk and reggae bands, by this CD.
Hectic Mix Nominations: ‘I Wish It Would Rain’ and ‘Memories’
Reviewed: V/A – Jamaica To Toronto – Soul Funk & Reggae 1967 – 1974 : Compiled by Sipreano and Light In The Attic (Light In The Attic) Cat. No. LITA 019 Release date: Jul 2006
1 Jo-Jo And The Fugitives – Fugitive Song (2:47)
2 Eddie Spencer – If This Is Love (I’d Rather Be Lonely) (2:49)
3 Jo-Jo And The Fugitives – Chips – Chicken – Banana Split (2:22)
4 Jackie Mittoo – Grand Funk (2:58)
5 Lloyd Delpratt – Together (2:33)
6 Cougars – I Wish It Would Rain (4:35)
7 Johnnie Osbourne – African Wake (2:42)
8 Ram – Love Is The Answer (2:40)
9 Bob And Wisdom – I Believe In Music (4:42)
10 The Sheiks – Eternal Love (3:07)
11 Wayne McGhie And The Sounds Of Joy – Fire (She Need Water) (3:37)
12 Cougars – Right On (2:50)
13 Eddie Spencer – You’re So Good To Me Baby (2:38)
14 The Hitch-Hikers feat. The Mighty Pope – Mr. Fortune (2:45)
15 Noel Ellis - Memories (6:59)
16 Wayne McGhie – Here We Go Again (3:05)
“Jamaica to Toronto Record Release Party – July 15 @ Harbourfront Centre, Toronto – FREE SHOW feat. Lloyd Delpratt, Noel Ellis, The Mighty Pope, Jay Douglas (Cougars), Bob & Wisdom, Everton Pablo Paul (Cougars, Wayne McGhie, Jackie Mittoo), and many more.”
Jackie Mittoo – The Keyboard King At Studio One Hectic – must have album/CD
Jackie Mittoo In London
Recommended Record Stores
Play De Record, 376 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario tel 416-586-0380 Web Site: www.playderecord.com
Beat-nick, 3770 St. Denis, Montr?©al, Qu?©bec Web Site: www.beat-nickmusic.com
Fred’s Records. 198 Duckworth Street, St. John’s, Newfoundland tel. 709-753-9191 Email: FredsLtd@canada.com. Web Site: www.freds.nf.ca
BOP City Records, 211 Simms St. Courtenay, BC tel. 250-338-6621