Early UK Catalogues for Jamaican Music


Melodisc, Rio, Blue Beat, Ska Beat, Dr. Bird, Island, Pyramid, Sue

On a recent visit to see Phil Etgart a well known Jamaican music collector I was told of a wonderful story of how Phil, shortly after buying a collection of records received by post a packet full of Lists and Catalogues from the seller. A packet containing lists of releases by some of the rarest and now most sought after labels in the history of Jamaican music in the UK. I’ve always had a  love the ephemera releated to the music, hence Jamaican Label Art a site I started with another mate, Ian Causer, and it’s with great pleasure and Phil’s permission that I post these here for you to see.

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Bubbles / Hot Toddy’s – The Wasp / Bopping In the Barnyard


The Bubbles – The Wasp / Bopping In the Barnyard

Hot Toddy’s – ‘Rockin’ Crickets

A tale of two singles with the same label

Melodisc's Duke Imprint, 'The Wasp' one of only three known on that label

Sound confusing?

I thought this article might help anyone who runs into this confusing mis-pressing and needs to i.d. the copy that they have.It took me a while!

Released by Melodisc records on their rare Duke imprint – The Bubbles – ‘The Wasp’ b/w ‘Bopping In the Barnyard’ was produced by Wasp records for release on Duke but in the process the single was mis-pressed and released with two different instrumentals on the A and B sides. Instead of some early Jamaican R&B/Shuffle organ instrumentals the pressing plant,  PYE records, accidentally mastered two Rockabilly tunes for the 45rpm stampers by the American band ‘The Hot Toddy’s’ and they were released and never withdrawn. The A-side tune is an instrumental called ‘Rockin’ Crickets’, which utilises a guitar effect to imitate the sound of those pesky little insects. Strangely it’s quite possible to mistake this sound for a poor imitation of another pesky insect… The Wasp. Considering that this insect is the subject of the title track and so titled on the correct release AND the name of the production company who recorded the original record, you can see where one might become slightly confused!

Duke, the Hot Toddy's Version, spot the B?

Subsequently the correct tunes were released on another Duke single, which apart from different matrices looks exactly the same as the first release. Though I have noted that both my copy of the mis-press and one shown on http://www.colorradio.com/rockinrebels.htm seem to have a dark and large B on the A-side label, perhaps some indication of the spurious nature of this ‘version’. The only other collectible single by the Hot Toddy’s that I can find is a 78rpm, on PYE, this would help to confirm the information I have found on these two releases and PYE’s involvement with Melodisc, early in that company’s history.

But…wait… you thought it was all over, and it just gets more confusing in the end!

The original Jamaican tunes were produced by WASP a production company, there was also a Jamaican and I believe a UK label of the same name, and it is they who licenced the tunes to Melodisc in the first place. I do not know if WASP were a UK based or Jamaican company, the music on the correct release certainly sounds Jamaican.

But here is where it gets strange.

There is a Jamaican 7″ single version of the release, on the unsurprisingly named ‘ The Wasp’ label. HOWEVER – this tune is also a mis-pressing of the release and has the B-side song titled as is the mis-pressed Duke release ‘Bopping In The Barnyard’. Why would this be?

Surely the single’s master tape or acetate (possible at this time, particularly if from a Jamaican studio) would have been originated in Jamaica and then have been mastered and pressed in Jamaica to 78rpm or perhaps 45rpm single. The release in question is a 45rpm so one has to pose the question – ‘when did Jamaica first have 45rpm pressing facilities on the island’? and if there were no facilities then this may explain why they could have released a mis-pressing of the single. PYE could have mastered it for them and sent either the stampers or product back to the Island. None of this explains why the single released in Jamaica with Rockabilly on it has a label that looks to the trained eye like it was definately printed in Jamaica though!!!

There is only one possible explanation for this as I see it.  PYE must have mastered the disc, and sent it back to Jamaica in the form of 45rpm stampers for a company that could press, but could not create vinyl stampers, in order to manufacture the singles at an Island pressing plant…. unless…… PYE manufactured the singles, sent them to Jamaica  and then they were labelled in Jamaica only!

One final element possibly ties all three releases together, the Catalogue number on the Jamaican release which is AB 1001 Vocal, similar I am sure you’ll agree to the UK releases DK 1001.

Here’s one of the weirdest single label scans from Jamaica you will ever see, The Hot Toddy’s version of a mis-labelled ‘Bopping In The Barnyard’ on the Jamaican ‘The WASP’ records.

It was sold on eBay in 2009 as a rare Rockabilly single and a  ‘Wild Unknown Rocker’ for $162. POPSIKE. I think we can identify it as the Hot Toddy’s tune, whose 78rpm on PYE is deemed to be worth about £5 by the Rare Record Collector. Someone possibly overpaid for a Jamaican Rockabilly tune, though frankly it might be worth it just for the true rarity value intrinsic in something quite so odd.

If you or anyone you know has information on exactly when Jamaica first pressed 45rpm singles on the Island I would be interested to have that information, as it could further help to understand what happened here.

The details of all the singles featured in this article are thus:

The first and mis-pressed release – BUBBLES, THE   Title –  ‘WASP, THE’  b/w ‘ ‘BOPPING IN THE BARNYARD’ Label – DUKE   Catalogue Number – DK 1001  Matrices in Run off Groove on A side DK 1001 A    produced by WASP / MELODISC    ORIGINAL  released in 1961

The second and ‘proper’ release -BUBBLES, THE    Title – ‘WASP, THE’  b/w – ‘BOPPING IN THE BARNYARD’ Label – DUKE    Catalogue Number – DK 1001    Matrices in run off groove on A side 45 DK 1001 A 1   Produced 1961 released in the U.K.

The third (not necessarily in date order), and the Jamaican release – BUBBLES, THE   Title – ‘BOPPING IN THE BARNYARD’ b/w ‘?’ Label – THE WASP Catalogue Number AB 1001 Vocal / Matrices – Unknown / Release Date – Unknown

I hope all that helps.