First US Recorded Ska Tune?

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First US Recorded Ska Tune?

Postby Uncle Chig E » Thu Jul 03, 2014 4:51 am

I found this 1964 tune on a not for sale white label 7" at a thrift store. The song is by the Marketts & is titled "Come See, Come Ska". The Marketts were an early '60's California surf band. Not sure if it's the first ska tune recorded in the US but it's gotta be a contender. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3w6IWgMxNQ
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Re: First US Recorded Ska Tune?

Postby Ital Dokta » Thu Jul 03, 2014 5:05 am

Same year Byron Lee travelled to the World's Fair to promote Jamaica & ska in the U.S. Great historic little find there!
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Re: First US Recorded Ska Tune?

Postby dre~sangQ » Thu Jul 03, 2014 11:22 am

~This recording possibly makes Bob Hope one of the first ska dancers to be televised. He mentions that the song is on of her album "Pajama Party" (released 11/1964). But it appears to actually be on the album before, "Annette At Bikini Beach" (released 9/1964):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3QMR5dtzhU

~Here's the studio version from the aforementioned album:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVbi7pfL6G0

~Annette still is infected with the Ska-bug over twenty years later:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r_77q0BnVs
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Re: First US Recorded Ska Tune?

Postby ReggaeFire » Thu Jul 03, 2014 3:09 pm

I'm not 100% certain all of these were recorded in the US, but I think most were. They were all released on US labels. As reference Atlantic and Capitol released singles by Prince Buster and Byron Lee respectively in May 1964. The craze seems to start in early May 1964, with ska getting mentioned in every issue of Billboard from May through August, though the full featured stories are mostly in the May and June issues, with later mentions only being in passing reference to record releases. After August ska only get a rare passing mention every couple months. It appears it was strictly a summer craze.

Jerry Kennedy "Blue Beat" May 1964. From Billboard, May 16, 1964: “Because of the strong reaction here to the Millie Small disk, Smash last week rushed Jerry Kennedy, its Nashville a&r specialist, into the studio for a Blue Beat instrumental. Fetch says a Blue Beat dance craze is on the way and he intends to be in on it from the start”

Toni Fisher "The Train Of Love" June 1964. (I don't know that I would have picked this out as ska, but it seems to have been marketed as such on release).
Ray Rivera "Do The Bluebeat (Jamaica Ska) June 1964.
Al Garcia & The Rhythm Kings "Latin Ska" June 1964.
Mark Thatcher "The Bluebeat (Jamaica Ska) June 1964.
Tracey Day "Ska-Doo-De-Yah" June 1964.
Baby Earl & The Trini-Dads "Everybody Do The Ska" June 1964.

Woody Herman released "Come On And Ska" July 1964.
Mr. Acker Bilk & His Paramount Jazz Band "Dream Ska/Ska Face" July 1964.* Upon further research, this is a UK recording
The Fleetwoods "Ska Light, Ska Bright" July 1964.
Mango Jones & His Orchestra "Coffee Street Ska/Ska La Bomba" July 1964. *This may be a Jamaican recording?
The Pussycats "Come On And Ska" July 1964.
The Cambridge Strings "Charmaine - Ska" July 1964. *UK maybe?
H.B. Barnum "Ska Drums/Skakiaan (Skokiaan)" July 1964.

Frederick Fennell & The Fennell Symphonic Winds "Seventy Six Trombones Ska" - July 1964. Okay, I have to point this one out, and request that anyone who has this to please upload this to youtube. It sounds like it must be amazingly terrible. From the July 25th, 1964 Billboard Magazine: "Mercury Records’ classical division last week shipped its first single - in the ska trend. It features Frederick Fennell and his Symphonic Winds playing “Seventy Six Trombones Ska” :shock:

Claus Ogerman & His Orchestra "Summer Ska" August 1964.
Jimmy Griffin "Try" August 1964.
Toni Wine "A Boy Like You" August 1964.
Lester Lanin "West Indies Ska" August 1964.
Rockin' Rebels "Bongo Blue Beat" August 1964.
Bobby Jay & The Hawks "Everybody's Doing It #2 - The Ska" LP August 1964. (I've always wondered about the #2 on this album, it turns out that they released 3 albums of different current dance crazes, The Watusi, The Monkey and The Ska.)

Baja Marimba Band "Baja Ska" September 1964.
Dean Jones "Women (Ska-Da-La-De-Da)" September 1964.

Lloyd Thaxton "The Tennessee Ska" October 1964.
The Mark III "Let's Ska At The Ski Lodge" October 1964. Featuring a young Grover Washington on sax!

Roscoe Weathers "Lost And Lonesome Ska" December 1964.

Throughout the stories Billboard first identifies Cleveland and Detroit (!?) as the centers of the ska craze, then later in the summer an Atlantic rep points to Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore as the hottest markets for ska.


*edit to add more 1964 records where I can't find the month of release

Ray Barretto "Ska Cha"
Al Russ & His Orchestra "Ska-Cha-Cha"* Actually a 1956 release and unrelated
Jack Hansen & His Orchestra "Calypso Ska"
Unnamed Crown Studio Band "Texas Ska" (from Crown 5449 Discotheque LP)
The Hip City Five "Jamaica Ska"
Milton DeLugg & Orchestra "Three Blind Moose (Blue Beat Ska)"
The Bon-Aires "Blue Beat" (There are several references online to this being a 1963 (or even 1962!) release, I simply don't believe that could be though).
Connie Dee "My Boy Lollipop"
Teresa Brewer "My Boy Lollipop"
Marty Gold & His Orchestra "My Boy Lollipop"


And 1965!
Stave Alaimo "Everybody Likes To Do The Ska"
Last edited by ReggaeFire on Fri Jul 04, 2014 2:07 pm, edited 12 times in total.
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Re: First US Recorded Ska Tune?

Postby ReggaeFire » Thu Jul 03, 2014 3:31 pm

Uncle Chig E wrote:I found this 1964 tune on a not for sale white label 7" at a thrift store. The song is by the Marketts & is titled "Come See, Come Ska". The Marketts were an early '60's California surf band. Not sure if it's the first ska tune recorded in the US but it's gotta be a contender.


Looks like it was released on Warner Brothers, in either late August or early September.
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Re: First US Recorded Ska Tune?

Postby Uncle Chig E » Fri Jul 04, 2014 1:39 am

Wow, I had no idea that there were that many ska tunes during '64. Thanks for the info. That was the year I graduated from high school or grade 12, eh, (that was for you Ital ;-)), north of Seattle. I'm proud to say I never saw any beach party movies. I was a folkie then.
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Re: First US Recorded Ska Tune?

Postby Ital Dokta » Fri Jul 04, 2014 2:02 am

That was about 5 years before I was born Unc :wink:
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Re: First US Recorded Ska Tune?

Postby Inyaki » Fri Jul 04, 2014 10:02 am

ReggaeFire wrote:Ray Rivera "Do The Bluebeat (Jamaica Ska) June 1964.
Al Garcia & The Rhythm Kings "Latin Ska" June 1964.

Ray Barretto "Ska Cha"
Al Russ & His Orchestra "Ska-Cha-Cha"


Great list!
These ones caught my eye. Didn't know them, had a listen, 'Ska-Cha' and 'Ska-Cha Cha' have no influence of Ska at all....maybe it was just a title coincidence? ( the Al Russ & His Orchestra record is from 1956 apparently....)
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Re: First US Recorded Ska Tune?

Postby ReggaeFire » Fri Jul 04, 2014 10:58 am

Looks like you're right about that Al Russ one Inyaki, though it could be that we can now pinpoint the origin of the word ska to Cleveland Ohio in early 1956! (kidding!). Oddly it does seem have been reissued in 1964, so someone noticed the naming similarity at the time!
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Re: First US Recorded Ska Tune?

Postby ReggaeFire » Fri Jul 04, 2014 12:32 pm

I ran through the Cash Box archives this morning to look for more. Not a whole lot, but a couple, including a new contender for the first US ska recording, Jeff Bowen's "Susie Ska", which is referenced in the May 23rd Cash Box.

Jeff Bowen “Susie Ska” May 1964.
Jerry Jackson “Shrimp Boats/Always” May 1964.

The Angels “Jamaica Joe” July 1964.

Steve Alaimo “I Don’t Know” August 1964.

Lizards “Sweet Young Thing” December 1964.
Bill Justis “Ska-Ha” December 1964.

A curio from the May 30th Cashbox “Bob Skaff has acquired a Blue-Beat master from England. It’s “Patsy Girl” with Ross McManus and the Joe Loss Orchestra”. I first noticed it for the near pun of “Ska(ff) acquires Blue-Beat”, then also noticed the record was by Elvis Costello’s father.

In a chicken or the egg scenario, Cash Box identifies Fats Domino’s “Mary, Oh Mary/Packin’ Up” from June as his entry into the ska bandwagon. After listening to the tracks I don't think it was intentional, it sounds like the standard Fats Domino stuff that influenced Jamaicans in the first place.
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