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Artist Profile
Alton Ellis
Sep 1, 1938 ~ Oct 10, 2008
Alton Ellis was, beyond any doubt, Jamaica’s most soulful singer ever and his influence on the development of Jamaican music through his matchless singing and song-writing is profound.
>>Featured Page
Real name:
Alton Nehemiah Ellis
Place of birth:
Jamaica
Kingston
Mr Soul Of Jamaica, born Alton Nehemiah Ellis in Western Kingston 1st September 1938, not only possessed one of the most expressive voices in Jamaican music full of emotion, exuberance and love but also wrote some of the finest and most memorable songs in the history of reggae. He regarded himself primarily as an interpreter of other people's material although Alton's self deprecation was typical of a man who did more to fashion the fabric of reggae music than many other, more celebrated, performers.

Alton came from a musical family and his younger sister, Hortense Ellis, appeared in six semi finals and four finals of the Vere Johns Opportunity Hour. Alton also triumphed in Vere Johns' legendary talent contests but for his dancing prowess rather than his singing skills.

"I win a couple of contests dancing and then switch to singing... in those days you have a lot of harmony singers in pair: Higgs & Wilson, Blues Busters, Charmers, Clarendonians, Melodians."

In the early sixties Alton formed a partnership with Eddy Perkins; the pair wrote a heart rending ballad, 'Muriel', and took the song to Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd(CS Dodd) who recorded it and released it on his Worldisc label. It was a huge hit which they followed up with 'My Heaven'. Alton and Eddy also recorded 'Let Me Dream' and 'Love Divine' for Vincent Chin(VIncent 'Randy' Chin)'s Randy's(Randys) label in a similar lachrymose style. At this time no-one saw the nascent Kingston music scene as a long term prospect and these fledgling singers, with their shared love of music, wanted nothing more than to become well known local personalities.

"You are a guy from the ghetto and you want to be on the radio, the TV, to be on the Christmas morning big concert. It really was the recognition."

Eddy Perkins departed for a solo career and Alton started to work for Dodd's arch rival Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label as lead singer of Alton & The Flames. As rock steady came to prominence in 1966 Alton became the undisputed leader in this brand new musical field and Treasure Isle the undisputed top studio and record label. Rock steady allowed singers, influenced by American harmony groups such as The Impressions, to express themselves in a uniquely Jamaican way. Alton's 'Rock Steady' seven inch release was one of the first ever records to use the term and his long playing 'Mr Soul Of Jamaica' for Duke Reid is rightly regarded by the cognoscenti as the definitive rock steady album.

He was one of the first Jamaican singers whose songs reflected local social issues and, while others remained ambivalent towards the lawless behaviour of the rude boys, Alton put himself in the firing line and issued a series of records, including 'The Preacher' and 'Blessings Of Love', that condemned their anti social behaviour. In 'Dance Crasher' he urged the rude boys to do something constructive with their lives and, instead of committing acts of negative violence, to be more like local hero boxer Bunny Grant. But taking a stand like this in the volatile area of Kingston where Alton lived only served to make him another rude boy target.

"Then I got threatened a couple of times. Living in Trench Town and being in that environment amongst the people and being an artist I'm easy to get at. So I tell Duke Reid I would refrain from singing these types of songs..."

In 1967 Alton was persuaded by Coxsone, now running his powerful Studio One organisation, to become the featured vocalist, alongside Ken Boothe, for The Soul Vendors UK Tour and Alton left Duke Reid and re-recorded many of his Treasure Isle hits for Coxsone. The tour was an unqualified success and Alton, Ken and The Soul Vendors returned to Kingston in triumph. Alton now began work on a series of recordings at Studio One that would enhance his reputation still further; some of his best work from this period can be found on three essential Studio One albums: 'Alton Ellis Sings Rock & Soul', 'The Best Of Alton Ellis' and 'Sunday Coming'. Many were autobiographical love songs about his wife Pearl and the heartbreak he endured when they broke up: one his most beautiful songs, 'I'm Still In Love With You(I'm Still In Love)', was sung as a direct appeal to Pearl.

"I back off from that type of recording and go back to more loving sounds. But of course love is a fact too and a serious fact... It's easier for me to sit down and write a song about love than about other situations. I feel it more and express it more. I think it's in my nature... And most of these songs are a story I'm telling about my life... it's personal."

As the sixties drew to a close Alton began to freelance for a number of different producers. He interspersed romantic songs including 'I'll Be Waiting' for Winston 'Techniques' Riley(Winston Riley) and 'Too Late To Turn Back Now' for Clive Chin at Randy's(Randys) with more socially conscious 'reality' lyrics such as 'Back To Africa' and 'Deliver Us' for Lloyd 'The Matador' Daley(Lloyd Daley). He returned to his anti rude boy stance and admonished them once again in 'Big Bad Boy' for Keith Hudson's Mafia label.

He came to England in 1972 to record for Herb Alpert & Jerry Moss' prestigious A & M label and, after the release of 'Sho Be Do Be Do (I Love You)', Alton took up permanent residence in London where he added immeasurably to the capital's reggae scene. He recorded sparingly but nurtured the careers of others including Janet Kay at the beginning of her rise to 'Queen Of Lovers Rock'. Alton also organised annual Rock Steady Gala shows held at the Hammersmith Palais over the Easter holidays in the nineties which showcased the cream of sixties Jamaican talent in a superbly sequenced setting. In 2004 Alton was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government in recognition for his services to the music business. Four years later, on 10th October 2008, he died of cancer of the lymph glands in West London's Hammersmith Hospital.

He continues to inspire a singular love and devotion amongst reggae devotees but, outside of reggae, people are aware of his music but remain unaware of the creator. 'I'm Still In Love With You(I'm Still In Love)' inspired Althea & Donna's 1977 worldwide smash 'Uptown Top Ranking' for Joe Gibbs(Joel Gibson) and the song was returned to in 2004 by Sean Paul and Sasha; their version remained on the Billboard charts for six months. 'Mad Mad' another huge hit from Alton's Studio One sojourn became a dance hall staple in the eighties after Michigan & Smiley deejayed the rhythm as 'Diseases' for Henry 'Junjo' Lawes. In the nineties it went on to become a hip hop staple sampled by KRS One and The Notorious B.I.G. amongst many others. To call his work influential, even seminal, barely hints at the truth.

Alton Ellis is a giant but a giant who is nowhere near as well regarded as his myriad musical achievements deserve. During his lifetime he learned to accept this lack of recognition with a proud yet world weary resignation but, had he worked in any other musical genre, he would be universally revered as a towering presence for shaping and making music as we now know it .
 
Related artist(s):
Ken Boothe
John Holt
Hortense Ellis
Derloy Wilson
Melodians
1963 ~
One of the most memorable of the many marvellous vocal groups who came to prominence in the mid sixties with the advent of rock steady…
>>Featured Page
Members:
Tony Brevett
Brent Dowe
Trevor McNaughton
Place of establishment:
Jamaica
Kingston
Greenwich Farm
"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion
We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Saying us one of the songs of Zion.
How shall we sing the LORD's song in a strange land?"
Psalm 137, Verses 1 to 4

Although a three part harmony group in the classical Jamaican tradition The Melodians were unusual in that they had two equally strong lead singers Tony Brevett and Brent Dowe. Trevor McNaughton provided the harmonies and the group was further strengthened by Renford Cogle who played a non-singing song-writing role. The sad, untimely death of Tony Brevett towards the end of last year has prompted this brief overview of their stellar career.

The group came together in 1963 when they were growing up in Kingston's Greenwich Farm district, home to many musically inclined youths, where The Melodians helped Alva 'Reggie' Lewis to tune his first guitar! Tony's uncle, Lloyd Brevett ace bass player with The Skatalites, introduced the youths to Coxsone Dodd(CS Dodd) at Studio One where they recorded 'Throw Down Your Weapon', 'Meet Me', 'I Should Have Made It Up' and 'Lay It On' in 1966. The records were moderately successful but when the group moved on to Mr Dodd's arch rival, Duke Reid at Treasure Isle, the hits started happening... cool, endlessly sophisticated music driven by the faultless perfection of Tommy McCook & His Supersonics down on Bond Street. Their Treasure Isle hits included 'Last Train To Expo '67' and its alternative vocal 'Last Train To Ecstasy', 'You Have Caught Me' aka 'You've Caught Me Baby', 'Come On Little Girl', 'You Don't Need Me', 'Everybody Bawling' and 'I'll Get Along Without You'.

Towards the end of 1967 The Melodians moved on to Sonia Pottinger's High Note label and, backed by the superb sounds of Lyn Taitt & The Jets, the hits kept on coming including 'Heartaches', 'Little Nut Tree' and 'Swing And Dine'. The following year, in an inspired bid for independence and self determination, The Melodians joined together with fellow artists, Ken Boothe, The Gaylads and Delroy Wilson to establish the Links label. A number of faultless releases appeared on the label including The Gaylads' 'Looking For A Girl', Ken Boothe's 'Can't You See' and The Melodians' beautiful 'It Comes And Goes' which would later resurface, slightly modified, as 'Royal Cord' on the Soul Beat label.

As rock steady speeded up into the rapid reggae beat The Melodians moved on to the Beverleys label where Leslie Kong was currently enjoying international success with Desmond Dekker, The Maytals and The Pioneers all troubling the UK National Charts. The Melodians' aching 'Sweet Sensation' narrowly missed making that critical crossover to the higher reaches of the UK National Charts despite hitting the Number One spot on both RJR and JBC. The English release on Trojan peaked at Number 41 in January 1970 after huge underground success.

The Melodians' arrangement of the opening four verses of Psalm 137 and the closing verse of Psalm 19 entitled 'Rivers Of Babylon' was another huge hit on the reggae market later that year. The song was banned in Jamaica because of "its overt Rastafarian references" but Leslie Kong countered that the psalms had been "sung by Jamaican Christians since time immemorial" and the ban was repealed; the record went on to become a massive hit. It was featured on the soundtrack of 'The Harder They Come' in 1972 the film that helped introduce reggae to an international audience. 'Rivers Of Babylon' was later adopted and adapted by Frank Farian for Boney M who hit worldwide with the song in 1978. Their disco version was awarded a platinum disc and became one of the top ten best selling singles in the UK ever.

During the seventies Brent Dowe also worked with Mrs Pottinger as a solo artist and had one of his biggest hits with 'Build Me Up' before working with Lee 'Scratch' Perry(Lee Perry). Brent's mournful Upsetter release 'Down Here In Babylon' became a Twelve Tribes Of Israel anthem and is still regularly played out at Twelve Tribes dances. Tony Brevett's oft versioned 'Don't Get Weary' for the Links label has assumed similar classical status. The Melodians continued to record sporadically as a group with a number of producers including Lee 'Scratch' Perry and Harry 'Harry J' Johnson(Harry Johnson) releasing many fine records including the obscure, but truly beautiful, 'Submission' for the New York based Tops Records label in the early eighties.

In the nineties and on into the new Millennium The Melodians toured internationally at countless concerts including Alton Ellis' celebrated Easter Sunday Rock Steady Gala at London's Hammersmith Palais and California's Sierra Nevada World Music Festival where their polished, professional performances not only proved popular with their long time fans but also won them many new, younger admirers. On 29th January 2006 Brent Dowe suffered a fatal heart attack aged 59 in Jamaica and on 26th October 2013 Tony Brevett died from cancer aged 64 in Miami, USA.

The depth of musical talent that has emanated from Jamaica is nothing short of incredible and The Melodians were at the height of their powers at a time when many other vocal groups including The Gaylads, The Paragons and The Techniques were also enjoying their peak years of creativity. The Melodians' perfectly formed catalogue has left a lasting legacy not only through their own enduring originals but also through endlessly versioned updates of their songs and rhythms. All at Dub Store Records offer their sincere, belated condolences to the families and friends of Brent Dowe and Tony Brevett.

"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer." Psalm 19, Verse 14
Label Profile
Treasure Isle
Treasure Isle was not only the home of some of the best ska, greatest rock steady and groundbreaking reggae but was also the birthplace of the deejay and dub phenomenon.
>>Featured Page
 
Hit title(s)
CD One Life To Live - Treasure Isle
¥2080
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LP Greatest Hits - Treasure Isle
¥1680
No Stock
LP Birth Of Ska - Treasure Isle
¥1480
No Stock
LP Hottest Hits Volume 1 - Treasure Isle
¥1980
No Stock
LP Hottest Hits Volume 3 - Treasure Isle
¥2080
No Stock
LP Hottest Hits Volume 2 - Treasure Isle
¥1680
No Stock
LP Mr. Soul Of Jamaica - Treasure Isle
¥1680
No Stock
LP Little Did You Know - Treasure Isle
¥1480
No Stock
LP On The Beach: Rock Steady Beat - Treasure Isle UK
¥2180
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LP Version Galore - Treasure Isle
¥1780
No Stock
vinyl 7" Duke Of Earl - Treasure Isle (other)
¥570
No Stock
vinyl 7" Stealing - Treasure Isle UK
¥900
No Stock
vinyl 7" Loving Pauper - Treasure Isle UK
¥900
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vinyl 7" Come On Little Girl - Treasure Isle
¥850
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vinyl 7" You Don't Care - Treasure Isle
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" Queen Majesty - Treasure Isle
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" La La Means I Love You - Treasure Isle UK
¥900
No Stock
vinyl 7" Carry Go Bring Come - Treasure Isle
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" Breaking Up - Treasure Isle UK
¥900
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vinyl 7" Don't Stay Away - Treasure Isle
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" Right Track - Treasure Isle
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" Perfidia - Treasure Isle
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" Ali Baba - Treasure Isle (other)
¥570
No Stock
vinyl 7" Tide Is High - Treasure Isle (other)
¥800
No Stock
vinyl 7" On The Beach - Treasure Isle (other)
¥700
No Stock
vinyl 7" Stranger At Your Door - Treasure Isle US
¥840
No Stock
vinyl 7" Happy Go Lucky Girl - Treasure Isle (other)
¥850
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vinyl 7" Ba Ba Boom - Treasure Isle (other)
¥570
No Stock
vinyl 7" Rock Steady - Treasure Isle (other)
¥850
No Stock
vinyl 7" Don't Touch My Tomato - Treasure Isle US
¥850
No Stock
>>Best seller(s)
 
Hit series
Hottest Hits
 
Related label(s):
Studio One
High Note
Gay Feet
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Description of item
[All Items] → [7"] → [Ska / Rocksteady] → [Rock Steady] → [Alton Ellis]
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vinyl 7" 7"
Alton Ellis / Melodians
La La Means I Love You / Passion Love
Treasure Isle UK
La La Means I Love You/Precious
¥900 (US$7.64)
Rating: 12345
Genre: Ska / Rocksteady
Sub Genre: Rock Steady
Produced by: Duke Reid
Approx. year: 1968/1970
Date added: May 29, 1999
Date re-stocked: Jul 9, 2014
Country: England
Catalog number: TIS 052
Music type: Rocksteady B: Vocal
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SIDE A:
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SIDE B:
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Best seller(s) which is using this rhythm track:
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Customer review
Rating: 12345
AltonもヤバイがMelodiansがこれまたヤバイ! 現場で必ずかけてます。
Reviewer: BUDDHA
Rating: 12345
ずーっとさがしてました!!再発ほんと嬉しいです↑↑
Reviewer: しんすけ
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