The Online Mod/ern/ist Archive

archive of original modernist recollections and information .
we are glad to hear from anyone with memories of the time, but we do not rewrite history .

24 Oct 2007

It's the Blue-Beat Craze !

A look at the latest craze to take the record industry by storm.


Norman Jopling – Record Mirror February 15, 1964

The record industry thrives on new crazes and sounds. And at the moment three record companies are thriving on the Blue Beat craze which is just being taken up by the industry in general as a potential money spinner for all concerned

Just for the record, and for those who probably haven’t heard it yet, just what is blue beat?

Well, it’s a strictly Jamaican sound with a pulsating on-beat played on stop chords throbbing mercilessly through the disc. Most of the songs are down-to-earth items that don’t usually deal with love, and the tunes are strictly secondary to the beat.

The craze has been “in” with the Mods since last summer because of the marvellous dance beat and of course has been bought by the West Indians in Britain for many years now.

But it was only when the larger record companies heard of fantastic sales for such blue beat discs as “Madness”, “Carolina” and “Blazing Fire” that they realised it could mean something.


Anyway, let’s take a look at the small blue beat companies – after all on of the attractions the music had to the Mods was that the music was exclusive to the smaller and virtually unknown labels.

Firstly there’s the Blue Beat label itself. Owned by Melodisc records run by Siggy Jackson this label was formed some two years back. It boasts many of the biggest blue beat artistes including Prince Buster, Derrick Morgan and The Folks Brothers.

“The blue beat rhythm itself was started by Prince Buster” says Siggy. “He had been singing in Kingston for a while, then he invented this new rhythm. His success since has been phenomenal. He has packed halls in Brixton and his “Madness” has sold over 120.000 copies. That’s our best seller that’s top of our own little chart. Other good discs for us are “Carolina” by the Folks Brothers and our new one “Tom Hark Goes Blue Beat”.

Although Buster invented the blue beat rhythm, I invented the name for our label.”

The other two blue beat companies don’t agree about the origins of blue beat. Both Island and R & B say that the rhythm has always been predominant in Jamaican music.

Island records is run by Chris Blackwell, an enterprising young white Jamaican who was fascinated by blue beat and started his own company here well over a year ago. His best seller is “Blazing Fire”, while another good one is “Housewives Choice”. Most of his numbers are recorded in Jamaica, unlike Melodisc who record here. But recently Island have been recording some of their best artistes here including one Millie, who had a disc recently issued by Fontana.

“So far all of our discs have sold well and we haven’t had one flop” Chris told me. “My aim is to see a blue beat disc in the charts – even if it was only at n° 50.”

Chris also owns two more labels. One is Sue, the great US R&B label which Chris bought when he was last in the States. Some of America’s best unissued R&B discs can now be obtained through this label. The other is Black Swan, more of a Calypso type label.

The other record company is R & B, the smallest of the three. Like Island they are selling very well still to the Jamaicans, while Melodisc are selling more to the Mods. Run by Ben Isen who also runs the R & B record shop in Stamford Hill, sales have been going up considerably. One of their top discs is “Orange Street”, an organ instrumental by Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames.

There are smaller companies, the ones who pioneered blue beat. How about the larger ones?

First of all, Decca has put out a disc called “The Blue Beat” by the Beazers. All of the small companies unanimously say “This isn’t blue beat, and if people think it is – it will do us harm”. The record itself is sung by Chris Farlow and backed by Cyril Stapleton. And no one anywhere seems to think it is blue beat. Decca are also reported to be leasing some tracks from Melodisc for release and next week will be recording some genuine blue beat groups to be put out on Decca.


EMI are issuing two discs in February by Ezz Reco and the Launchers with Boysie Grant and Beverley as vocalists. This is a genuine blue beat group and if the discs are fairly successful EMI will be issuing more. But it is certainly an unprecedented step for a big record company to issue two discs by the same artiste within two weeks!

And so far no word from any other companies. So it looks as if the Blue Beat craze is destined to catch on in a big way with the two biggest record companies giving it top priority.

But once it starts breaking big nationally it looks as if the mods are going to have to find something more exclusive.

Keep your eyes open record companies…

1 comment:

Shirley said...

Recently chatted about Ezz Reco, he seems somewhat elusive. Have you got anymore info on him?