Monday, November 14, 2005

Last week a DJ saved my dissertation

Last week on an early morning walk through Central Sq., who should I run into but MAGNUS! (As some of you may remember from earlier posts, Magnus is the former WZBC/WMBR DJ and Boston musical Svengali who has served as an inspiration for me and so many others over the years.) Now on any morning, running into Magnus would be a rare treat (given that he currently resides in ME and rarely appears in the Bean). But on this morning, our meeting seemed to overflow with signs and portents. I had gotten up early filled with the kind of self doubt that only a week of academic job searching and dissertation wordsmithing can create. Through a series of short holdups (like lack of cash in my wallet), I was on my way back from the bank to pick up my coffee (which sat cooling on the counter at the 1369 coffee shop). As I considered my need for a complete attitude adjustment, I practically walked into Magnus.

As it happens, he had run into a similar set of small holdups and was on his way to South Station to catch a bus back to ME. As I pondered the odds of our meeting and when chance occurrences begin to seem like fate, he explained that he had had come to town to do a yearly DJ battle for the WMBR fund drive. As we stood chatting, my eyes kept drifting to the vaguely square canvas backpacks that hung heavily off his shoulders. "What you got in there, records?" I asked (only half believing that he would drag two huge sacks of records on a 5 hour bus ride from ME to play a college radio show from 2-6 AM). His elfin eyes lit up and his face broke out in a wicked smile. "Dude, dude, dude" he kept saying as he dropped his burden on a bench. "You are not gonna believe this."

Of course, it was some of the most incredible music I had never heard. As it turns out he had assembled a pile of his most precious "skinhead ska" records for the show. It was not long before we sat at my house a few blocks away listening to one of his most precious records. Thankfully, I was able to get the pro tools rig running and ripped it as we listened. I have been listening to it obsessively since then.

Jerry Jones at the Kingston Hotel is a rare 1971 Studio One release that documents the permeable boundary between American and Jamaican music in the late 1960's. The PK / Blood And Fire compilation Darker Than Blue: Soul from Jamdown (1973-1980) picks up the story slightly later, focusing on Jamaican versions of American funk songs and taking us up to the beginning of hip hop with the inclusion of Welton Irie's Hotter Reggae Music.

Jerry Jones at the Kingston Hotel reflects a slightly older connection between late 1960's Soul music and Jamaican Ska. However, the inclusion of such tracks like the classic Les McCann penned "Compared to What?" suggests the strength of the musical tributaries linking hip hop, jazz funk, soul and Jamaican music of all kinds.

Frustratingly, there is relatively little information out there about this gem of a record. While it has apparently never been re-released, some of the tracks have appeared on compilations like Studio One Soul (Soul Jazz) and Feel Like Jumping: The Best of Studio One Women (Rounder).

There is also some confusing information out there as well. For example, says that Jerry Jones at the Kingston Hotel was the alternate title of "Compared to what?" (pictured above) which they list as Studio 1 LP #SOLP 9019. They list the catalog number for Jerry Jones at the Kingston Hotel (the record I saw) as Bamboo LP #BDLPS213 1971. But this information does not match the title and catalog number of the record Magnus showed me which was Jerry Jones at the Kingston Hotel, Studio 1 LP #SOLP 9019 and had a picture of Jerry at the said hotel (as described below).

The best information I was able to find about the record appears in the liner notes of Feel Like Jumping (reposted here c/o

Jerry Jones was an American singer who had come to Jamaica to perform at a show produced by Alty East at the Regal Theater. Mr. Dodd was one of the audience members. Jerry originally hailed from Birmingham, Alabama and moved to Canton, Ohio where she performed at amateur talent shows. She started performing throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York State and as far north as Toronto and Montreal, appearing with top Motown and soul stars. In the mid sixties she moved to Miami where one of her bookings brought her to Jamaica. After Mr. Dodd saw her at the Regal, he invited her to record for Studio One, releasing a number of singles and the Jerry Jones at the Hotel Kingston album. The Hotel Kingston was located on Half Way Tree Road across from the Jamaica Telephone Company and now houses some government offices. Mr. Dodd and Alty East produced a series of shows for Jerry that were held at the hotel and which led to the title of the album, but the songs were all recorded at the studio on Brentford Road. "Compared to What" (1970) was a cover of the Les McCann and Eddie Harris collaboration that was a hit off the 1969 Swiss Movement album done for Atlantic. Jerry Jones had other Studio One releases like "Still Waters" (1970) and "Honey Come Back" (1971) that were also quite popular when released.

Other than this plurb, there is relatively little information out there on this record or on Jerry Jones herself. She appears to have been a member of the Philly soul group Brenda and the Tabulations but other than that, it is hard to find any other information about Jerry Jones on the web. Any info about her and or this record would be greatly appreciated.

I post this MP3 of Jerry Jones Side A hoping that it may encourage a rerelease of the record and generate more recognition for Jerry Jones.

Jerry Jones at the Kingston Hotel:
Side A Track List
*Common People
*There's A Chance For Me
*Honey Come Back
*Compared To What
*Oh Me Oh My
*Let It Be

In addition to the amazing "Compared to What?", check out the soulful skank of the next track "Oh Me Oh My" (the first one Magnus played for me). I never did pick up that coffee, but I am well on the way toward having a full first draft of the dissertation, so I guess that attitude adjustment worked after all.

Here's the Side B Track list
*Freedom Train
*All In The Game
*Trying Times
*Hold On
*I Found That Someone
*If I Only Had Time

Thanks again Magnus.


Anonymous JHW said...

Attitude adjusted!

6:20 PM  
Anonymous madame l. said...

any chance you'll be posting the b-side? uhm, please.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Pace said...

Hi Madame I. How can I resist your polite request? Its up for a few days.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darker Than Blue: Soul from Jamdown (1973-1980).

This is not a Soul Jazz release, it's a PK / Blood And Fire lp

Just being picky, great site.

4:10 PM  
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10:39 PM  

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