Being a short study of one producer and label from Kingston.
Stanley Motta was a businessman living in Kingston Jamaica who originally traded in electrical goods and began his recording ‘studio’ in the early 1950s, before there were any other studios or mastering and pressing facilities on the Island. He would have artists record their songs in one shot and the acetates would then be sent for duplication in the United Kingdom. These records were then sent back to Jamaica to be bought mainly by early tourist visitors to the Island. Motta recorded Mento; a style of music that is sometimes inaccurately described as Jamaican Calypso. To this day Stanley Motta Cellular Repair is a Jamaican company, specialising in electrical repair.
First ever Jamaican production to get UK release.
In 1952 Melodisc the UK label reknowned for it’s ‘Ethnic’ output produced MELODISC Cat no – 1214 / MOT 01-8. This is the first Jamaican produced single to see a release in the UK. Having been written and recorded and ‘produced’ in Jamaica the acetates were sent to the UK and pressed both for release in the UK and Jamaica, both issues of the single share exactly the same Matrices. This intimates that they were pressed by the same company, but labelled with two different record company labels. MRS (Motta’s Recording Studios) and Melodisc.
The Home Market
Initially local interest was limited, the up-market Kingstonians were not interested in what they saw as the ‘Rural’ music of Jamaica and it wasn’t until the western white tourist audience grew that Jamaicans themselves, at least the wealthier ones, began to take an interest. Poorer Jamaican families could rarely afford the equipment to play the 78rpm records on and so it was left to them to write and perform the songs that Stanley Motta recorded.
Mento is now a sought after collectors commodity, rare and VERY difficult to find. Once it was just something that captured a little of the flavour of a visit to the Caribbean and something to put away in the attic with the Hawaiian shirt, holiday snaps and Bermudan shorts.
Later in his career Motta had a few now rare 45rpm singles and E.P.s pressed and also released his music on a well known series of 10″ Lps, amongst them the ‘Authentic Jamaican Calypsos’ Series with vols 1 to 4. Some of the material released on these 10″ Lps was also released by the London label as ‘Authentic Jamaican Calypsos’ this time without a series number and a as a compilation of tunes that appear on the Jamaican produced series of the same name. In England at least this London Lp is easier to find.
Mento continues to be more easily found in the United States where the short hop from Miami had meant that tourists from North America were more likely to visit than other nationals. Of course the Brisith colonialists only left Jamaica in 1962, however it remains hard to find Mento in Britain for some reason.
You can find out more at the excellent – http://www.mentomusic.com/