Monday, October 13, 2008

RIP Alton Ellis

over the weekend Alton Ellis died.  i am sure hardly anyone reading this, if any at all, know who he is.  i certainly didn't know about him until a couple of years ago.  he is one of the pioneering stars of the jamaican music scene, and one of the founding fathers of rocksteady and reggae.  

you can read his bio here, and i'd recommend going out and downloading a couple of his tracks if you get a chance.  

the first Ellis song i heard was 
"I'm Just a Guy" and it was really great. he's a beautiful singer with a very soulful voice. it has this really great feel to it, and it was one of those epiphany moments for me. before i had really heard any of the rocksteady or reggae artists i had always assumed motown and American soul music to be the end all be all. Alton's stuff really changed that and i was introduced to a world of really great music with just as much "soul" and "groove" as anything American artists had done. the Jamaican stuff was it's own beast, yet stood right there with the Americans. as a founder of a lot of the music Ellis had a huge influence on a ton of artists and really embodied the spirit of the music. his duet album with Hortense Ellis is gorgeous and in my eyes right up there with the Marvin and Tammi stuff. Alton's version of "Can I Change My Mind" is one of the best versions of the song ever, and it is somewhere up there on my top twenty songs of all time.

Trojan Records has box sets which are fantastic and collect the music by any number of different genres. the Rocksteady box is awesome and has a ton of stuff, and the Numbers Ones set is good for a great overview of the different periods and genres. each of the collections comes with some good history and they are 20 bucks ususally for 3 cd's of material. it's hard not to get hooked.

if you really want to hear it let me know and i can get you send you a CD or send you a song or two. he's a great singer who hardly anyone i know has heard of, and that is a great injustice.

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