Derrick Morgan performs at his 60th anniversary show at the Supernova International Ska Festival in Fredericksburg, Virginia, during Memorial Day Weekend. All photos by Heather Augustyn.
Young women in dresses and ponytails screamed his name as he walked to the center of the stage and took the microphone in hand. Muscled men held their fists in the air in a sign of respect and appreciation, welcoming the performer as the spotlight found its focal point. There on the platform, held high above the crowd assembled in Fredericksburg, Virginia, at the 2017 Supernova International Ska Festival during Memorial Day weekend, the blind performer, nearly an octogenarian, cane in hand, clad in a dapper white suit and coordinating hat, celebrated his sixtieth anniversary in show business, and attendees came from all over the world just to hear him sing the songs that influenced generations of musicians and helped to shape an entire genre.
Without argument, Derrick Morgan is one of the pioneers of Jamaican music. Derrick Morgan is a legend. He is respected by all ages, all cultures, all races, and his songs cross many genres—boogie woogie, ska, rocksteady, reggae, even some dub. “I’m the conqueror, anywhere you go. The conqueror, I want you all to know. The conqueror, and I rule also,” he sang as the crowd synchronized his every word. Morgan has had to work hard over these past six decades.
In March of 2017, I spoke with Derrick Morgan about how he first started his career, on stages in Kingston, Jamaica, at the Vere Johns Opportunity Hour, a talent show akin to American Idol. “We had half an hour between two movies, so it was always at a theater, the Ambassador Theatre or the Palace Theatre in Kingston. After the first show, performers would come out for like a little talent show. They sing and then the audience would judge. When they ask who is the best, they call out. When the audience feel more for one, they win, and I win,” Morgan said of his achievement back in 1957. Many Jamaican artists gained exposure through this talent show, catching the attention of local record producers who were just starting their studios. Morgan was one of these artists. Back in 1997 when I interviewed Morgan, he explained how his recording career began. “This man named Duke Reid, which is Trojan [Records], used to ask some artists to do recording and I heard of it and went to him with two songs. I wrote one called ‘Oh My’ and one called ‘Loverboy’ and I asked him if he was interested and he said ‘yeah.’ He recorded those two songs for me and that’s how I started recording, in 1959.”
Morgan recorded for a number of producers during these days, but he soon settled with Leslie Kong who owned a studio called Beverley’s. Morgan not only recorded for Kong, but he also acted as a sort of scouting agent, discovering such Jamaican stars as Desmond Dekker, Jimmy Cliff, and Bob Marley. He explained, “With Bob Marley, I met him on Charles Street. He asked me if I would help him out. I told him to come up by Beverley’s and I would listen to him. I did the same thing with Jimmy Cliff. After long while, I never see him come. But then Bob come to Beverley’s and he listen to his song, Leslie Kong, which was ‘One Cup of Coffee’ and ‘Judge Not’ and he decided to record him. That’s how it started out with Bob. We have about three shows lined up for appearance shows for me and Beverley’s [Kong] put them on and the one, we didn’t put him [Bob] on that show, but there was one in Clarendon and one in Montego Bay and we had him perform. He was dancing more than he was singing and he was out of breath. I told him he must sing first and when the solo comes he can dance there and go back to singing. We cannot dance right through the song. He listen to me and in Montego Bay he do what I ask him to do and he do ‘One Cup of Coffee’ first and the crowd start booing him, and when he come with the second song, ‘Judge Not’ before you judge yourself, the audience thought he put some lyrics on them. And he went on to something great. But when I went to England, Bob went to Coxsone [Studio One] with a group called the Wailers and I have nothing to do with him since that time, but I started him.”
Recording during these primitive days was virtually unrecognizable by today’s standards. Morgan says the process took place in one day, in one take. “When the musicians rehearse it good, they say ready, take a red light. When it’s the red light, they’re ready to record. We have to record at the same time with the band. You record straight down. If we miss, we have to start all over again. When I’m doing those songs, I never miss, because when I do the song I do it straight away and that’s why they call me one drop Derrick Morgan. We didn’t have tracks, just one track, so you have to do everything at the same time and the engineer have to be very skilled.”
Derrick Morgan performs with Cathy DiToro of the band Party Like It’s during the song, “Housewives Choice,” at his 60th anniversary show at the Supernova International Ska Festival in Fredericksburg, Virginia, during Memorial Day Weekend.
Today, Morgan’s songs are anthems with the ska community, skinhead community, in Jamaica, and all over the world. Among those on his set list during his sixtieth anniversary show was the seminal hit “Moon Hop,” along with “Forward March,” “Reggae Train,” “Rudies Don’t Fear,” and “Blazing Fire,” among others He was backed by Eastern Standard Time of Washington, D.C. and during the duet, “Housewives Choice,” was accompanied by Cathy DeToro, vocalist of the band Party Like It’s, also of Washington D.C.
Morgan was accompanied onstage to the microphone by his wife, Nellie, who danced offstage throughout his set. Nellie Morgan is the sister of Bunny Lee, the famous Jamaican record producer. Derrick Morgan has fourteen children, a number of which are involved in the music industry including Queen Ifrica, and he continues to perform all over the world and record from his home base in Clarendon, Jamaica.
Nomade Orquestra from São Paulo, Brazil, are back with another genre-defying, adventurous LP is so full of influences it verges on overreach, but then the ten-person orchestra manages to nail it every time. The kick-off track “Intro/Jardins de Zaira” alone manages to fuse African guitar lines with what sounds to me like a quote from Tears for Fears’ “Head Over Heels” layered over Afro-Brazilian roots and touches of Latin jazz. The second track, “Rinoceronte Blues,” was obviously made for a Nollywood (Nigeria’s film capital) cowboy movie. The third track fuses Middle Eastern elements with Afro-Brazilian rhythms like only a band from São Paulo could (the city had an Arab-Brazilian mayor in the ’90s). I could go on, but then you’d miss out on the fun of trying to figure out the influences interwoven into the songs of this musically adventurous crew of musicians and record collectors. And it’s clear that’s what they’re doing: having fun, built on technical skill and meticulous attention to detail, making each song sound like a solitary scene from nine different imaginary films.
Having just arrived in the U.K. following dates in Japan, Singapore and China and just prior to heading back to his home in Brazil for more gigs, it’s little surprise that a bleary eyed, freshly woken DJ Marky greets us at 11 AM for the start of an interview to talk about his new compilation. Maybe he’s tired or maybe he’s not a morning person? Some DJs aren’t. But anyone who’s met him will tell you that DJ Marky aka Marco Antonio Silva is most definitely a people person and it’s not long before his infectious, warm smile arrives, as he begins to enthuse about music and memories in a conversation that strays from the parameters of discussing the compilation.
“It’s a proper, old school mix,” he smiles to start. “I’m not trying to edit or loop the tunes, I’m just putting the needle on the record and mixing. You can hear where I’ve speeded up or slowed down the records. It’s a real mix using two turntables. It’s not a computer mix.” Marky is best known for both these DJing skills and his production skills in the world of drum n’ bass, a genre he has championed for over two decades. Spotted by Bryan Gee while playing in a club in Marky’s home town of São Paulo, he was invited by Gee to spin in London, released his first music on Gee’s labels including V Recordings and went on to establish lifelong friendships and collaborative production efforts with several UK drum n’ bass artists. But it wasn’t strictly Marky’s expertise in drum n’ bass that made him stand out to Bryan Gee. In Marky he heard an experienced DJ who had been active since his early teens, well versed in disco thanks to his first residency at a roller skate rink and similarly educated in hip hop. It was techniques from the latter, which Marky brought into his drum n’ bass sets, that were among the elements that made him stand out to Bryan Gee. And, within his earliest productions for Gee, Marky would go on to display a love for Brazilian folk and dance music, picked up via his parents record collection, when he released “So Tinha Que Ser Com Voce” and the smash hit “LK,” Brazilian drum n’ bass became one of the genre’s biggest buzzes of the millennium’s start.
The status DJ Marky had attained within drum n’ bass was marked by BBE in 2010 when they paired him with the mighty 4 Hero on The Kings of Drum n’ Bass compilation. But Marky’s relationship with the label had begun over two years previously when they requested an Influences compilation from him, in full knowledge that Marky’s record collection stretched much further than the genre with which he was most associated. What he delivered was a masterclass of cross genre DJing that took in disco, jazz, electro, soul, house, and more, mixed on CD by his own deft hands. This second compilation offers up more of the same far ranging finery.
“The Maryann Farra record, I was lucky because my parents had this record,” laughs Marky when the soul and disco content of the compilation are brought up. “Don’t ask me why! But my dad had that record on Brunswick so my parents would play it. I liked it, but it wasn’t something I would play regularly when I was young. I started listening to it again when I got much older, 10 or 12 years ago, after my son was born. It was only then I realised it was a rare record and that other DJs were talking about it.” Produced in 1976 by Tony Valor and mixed by Tom Moulton, Farra’s only full length solo is a wonderful if slightly under-acknowledged album that bridges soul and early disco. Although Marky’s choice of ‘You Got to Be the One” is just one of its many stand out tracks, it’s nevertheless quite remarkable that Marky tells a tale of its presence in his childhood home. But then, Marky has a tale to tell about almost every track on the album.
“When I was a teenager I recorded a DJ mix from the radio and that tune was on it!” he says of another impossibly early exposure to a cult classic, Clyde Alexander and Sanction’s “Got to Get Your Love.” “So I had it on this favorite mix, but then I never heard it again, not for another 20 years. When I started my career in London I tried to go to every different night. I went to Gilles Peterson’s night, I went to this night at Bar Rhumba on Tuesdays where they played Latin. Anyway, I hear the tune again at a disco house party in London – I can’t remember if it was Joey Negro that was DJing—but I was like, ‘What is this tune?’ Then when Kenny Dope released his Disco Heat compilation, that’s when I found the name of the track. That’s when I found out it was Peter Brown, who was running all those labels with Patrick Adams like Queen Constance, Heavenly Star, P+P, cos I had loads of P+P back in the day like Cloud One.”
Marky’s second Influences compilation exists, like the first, in mixed and also unmixed formats, with several tracks appearing exclusively on each separate version. Galaxy 2 Galaxy’s “Timeline” from the Underground Resistance stable, for example, appears within the mix but was unable to be licensed for vinyl, whereas proto-house masterpiece Cultural Vibe “Ma Foom Bey” and the classic break of Esther William “Last Night Changed It All” do not. Also heavily featured within the actual mix are more of Marky’s Brazilian choices. “The Pasito Allstars’ ‘Cosa Nostra’ is a reinterpretation of a Jorge Ben track,” he says, tipping the hat to Brazilian music’s foremost modern master. “It’s been recorded by so many people. This version is also quite like the one recorded by Erlon Chaves.”
“The original of ‘Futebol De Bar’ is by César Camargo Mariano but, although it’s beautiful, it’s only two minutes long and almost a minute of that, the first minute, is solo piano. It’s a crazy tune,” he says of another that has been transferred from his parents record collection. “The Manuel Azevedo Quartet version is twice as long and it starts immediately with the drums, but it’s so similar. It’s just that I can play this version.” These Brazilian tracks offer a real insight into some of Marky’s earliest inspirations, ones which may be unfamiliar to his fanbase in Europe and North America, but perhaps known by many of his fellow nationals in Brazil where he has long been celebrated as a tastemaker operating across a multitude of genres. But, after introducing his varied home library on the first volume of Influences, on this second edition he obviously feels more relaxed about appealing to his longstanding audience. “The main difference is that on that first compilation there was only one drum n’ bass track,” says Marky, when comparing the two titles. “So, on this one there’s one jungle track and two drum-and-bass tracks.”
“The Watching Windows DJ Die mix is from when I started my career in London. The Bristol sound was so massive and so important to me. I remember when Die did this remix I was desperate to get it as a dubplate and couldn’t until Bryan spoke to Roni. I remember playing it at my night, The Vibe, in Brazil, which I had for 10 years and when I used to play it, oh my God, it was crazy. The Origin Unknown track too, I love that remix. I was mad in love with the original but the remix is so funky, so groovy. I still play it now.” With a twenty year plus career anchored within the sphere of drum n’ bass, although Influences Vol. 2 displays more selections than its predecessor, it still must have been difficult to whittle down a lifetime of selections from the genre to the few here. “My first choice was to put Marcus Intalex and ST Files ‘How You Make Me Feel’ on there because Marcus is one of my best friends and that’s one of my favorites by him,” he says when questioned about that difficult selection process and, in doing so, he broaches the subject of the sadly and recently departed Marcus Intalex. “But he told me he couldn’t license it to me. He was going to have the rights to the tune back really soon, but the date wasn’t going to match with the release of the compilation. So I decided to license ‘Skanna,’ because that was something I used to play a lot. I was very into ragga jungle, but the first time I heard LTJ Bukem it changed my mind. It was the musicality of it. I was like ‘Oh, my God’. Goldie used to play that ‘Skanna’ track too.”
Also being a resident of Manchester for most of my life, my path first crossed with drum n’ bass don Marcus Intalex almost two decades ago. We hung out at countless afterparties and in record stores. Initially I remember being astounded, as perhaps only a naïve young man could be, by how much my own tastes crossed over into the record collection of a then rising drum n’ bass icon like Marcus. But Marcus, like Marky, was so clued up when it came to other genres like house, broken beat and techno, as would be revealed in his career when he adopted the Trevino and Da Intalex aliases. Not being the biggest drum n’ bass fan in the world, every time I scored a job to interview a drum n’ bass star like Calibre, Fabio or Marky, I would text Marcus and ask for suggestions for topics of discussion. He never once failed to reply. But that was the kind of guy he was. The last time I interviewed Marky, just over a year ago, again Marcus primed me with questions, this time for his friend and, upon revealing my intimate source, Marky’s face lit up like a firework display in genuine affection and delighted surprise. At that time Marky told me “I tell you, Marcus is a huge influence to me. He’s the best drum n’ bass producer so far. It’s hard for me to fully explain, because he’s a friend of mine… I know he goes through phases sometimes. Sometimes he likes drum n’ bass, sometimes he doesn’t, sometimes he likes more techno. I think it’s because he’s so clever, sometimes he’s a bit out of everything, out of the world, restless. But in my point of view he’s one of the most talented producers in drum n’ bass and now he’s blowing up on the techno scene. Trevino is killing it.” An interview regarding his Influences Vol. 2 compilation might not seem like the most appropriate place for Marky to talk about some of his feelings and the respect he had for his friend, who had passed just the Sunday prior, but given the mutual friendship we shared with Marcus and the history we had talking about him, the interview just naturally drifted into that direction.
“I had to play on Sunday, the day he passed away, and I found out about midday,” says Marky. “My agent phoned me and asked if I had 10 minutes because they needed to talk to me. I thought it was going to be about something else. When they told me about Marcus I was absolutely shocked. I started crying and I been like that for two days. It’s been a mix of feelings. Sometimes I’ve been too sad. Anyway, I decided to play because I knew that if I stayed at home and didn’t work I’d just be worse. So, I played ‘Back to Love.’ That’s the track we made together, me, him and ST Files and XRS. It’s strange, but for the past two years the track hasn’t left my set is ‘Guillotine.’ I played ‘Temperance,’ I played ‘How You Make Me Feel,’ which, I don’t know if it’s my number one, it’s between that and ‘The Universe’ because he made them at the same time and I love them both. ‘Time to Fly’ I’ve been playing too. I’ve been playing a lot of his tracks. But that’s nothing new. Normally I’d be playing three or four of his tracks within my set. Really, it’s normal. Because he’s a genius, you know? I’m not the kind of DJ who thinks he has to play dubplates. I like to play good music, doesn’t matter if it’s new, doesn’t matter if it’s old. So, if people don’t know Marcus’s music then I play it, because they need to know. Even ‘LK’, my big tune, I never play my mix of it. I always play his remix.”
“But when I played on Sunday I was in tears,” he continues. “Literally. Some people were looking at me, some others were dancing and then, even though I was in tears, some people were coming up asking for a photo with me. And I was thinking, man, you have no idea what’s going on. But, okay, you can have a photo. It’s hard. I used to hang out with him all the time. Those days in Manchester when we spent all that time together. He was one of the nicest people in the whole scene, one of the first who gave me tunes to cut. And I had the privilege to play at the first Soul:ution night. And at their tenth birthday. You know Nu:Tone and Logistics? Now they’re known as successful artists. I remember listening to their tracks with Marcus and we were deciding which of them he was going to release. It was such a wonderful time. The time with Jenna, DRS, Calibre, High Contrast, Futurecut, Sonic & Silver, it was magical, man. I am very blessed to have had him in my life.”
Marcus’s knowledge of music, like Marky’s, crossed so many boundaries because in each of them you could find an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the form. But unlike Marky, who nevertheless has produced some house music, in recent years Marcus seemed to shift his focus entirely to his techno-producing Trevino alias. “When we made tunes together some of them would be beautiful, melodic,” recalls Marky. “But others would be… not heavy, but you could feel an acid house or techno vibe in them. I asked him so many times about The Hacienda, how it was, the scene back in the day. I used to play some of those tunes, but back then, in Brazil, it was so hard for me to get the records. So I was always wanting to know how it was. He would tell me. He told me about Graeme Park and Mike Pickering and I was like “Mike Pickering? The guy from M People? No!” But he was shocked that I knew so many of the tunes. So, it always felt to me that his music had techno influences. Even my friends back in Brazil who play house and techno, they’re not feeling drum n’ bass, but they’re feeling Marcus’s music.”
“When he sent me ‘Backtracking’ (Trevino) it took me back to the days when I first heard that kind of acid house. I was like ‘What the fuck?’ When I played that track in Brazil at my non drum n’ bass gigs people would come up and ask what it was and when I said ‘Marcus Intalex’ they’d be like ‘No!’ So, a lot of people were checking out the Trevino project. He’s got a massive fanbase in Brazil. You couldn’t have a clue about just how many people there are devastated by the news. He played for me about five or six times there and people just love him. He used to come and just treat everyone so nice. He would reply to messages from everyone. Everyone.”
Even though we are still suffering from the blow Marcus’s loss, some comfort can no doubt be found in the huge contribution Marcus made to the world with his distinct music over various genres. Marky agrees. “I’m happy to be able to promote his music on both the drum n’ bass and the techno side,” he says. “His legacy will never die.” Though we may sadly not hear any more new releases from Marcus Intalex, Marky is right in that he will live on through the music he has gifted to us and future generations. And his love for, and championing of, music from across the spectrum will continue to inspire us when mirrored by similarly forward thinking, open minded and passionate DJs such as Marky.
Andrea Vereen & The St Marks Choir – Who Is He
Enlightenment – Agape Love (Inst)
Nicholas – Stop Ya Searching (Try God)
Thankful (The Showfa Rework)
Friends – Something Keeps Telling Me To Hold On
Soldiers – Amazing (The Showfa Disco Rework)
The Oakdale Covenant Choir – Take A Stand
Passage – Power
Edwin Hawkins – Emmanuel (The Showfa Edit)
Evelyn Graves Drama Assn. Massed – We Came To Magnify The Lord
Tom Collins & The Mighty Powerlaires – I Found A New Love
Prince Robeson – Let’s Praise Is Holy Name
Infinity – Tell The Word About It
Voices Of Joy – I Feel Like Praising God (The Showfa Edit)
Voices – After You
Sam Davis & The Twin Cities Gospel Ensemble – He’ll Be There
The Gaslamp Killer dropped the excellent psychedelic album Instrumentalepathy last year. After selling out the vinyl, they have pressed up another batch, which will be for sale soon at Fat Beats. Gotta cop one.
Gaslamp is getting ready for his 2017 tour, kicking off July 13 in London. He’ll end it back home in Los Angeles for Low End Theory’s 11th anniversary party! See flyer below for all dates.
Just in time, GLK dropped a new, bugged-out video by Marielle Tepper (above).
“Marielle is a good friend and an evil genius,” Gaslamp tells us. “I gave her full creative control with this project and she did a wonderful job, just like she did with our ‘In the Dark’ video. She produced the SINS video with friends Matous Heger and District Productions in Prague and shot it in three days. Our editor Phil Nisco created an even deeper narrative and brought it all together. I am super grateful to be working with such a great crew! Hope you enjoy it too!”
Last month saw the 25th anniversary of Daily Operation, the third LP of one of hip-hop’s most revered and beloved duos: Gang Starr. Released May 5, 1992, the album features classic joints such as “Take It Personal” and “Ex-Girl to Next Girl.”
To celebrate the record’s birthday, our friend Chris Read has crafted yet another exclusive mixtape featuring album tracks, alternate versions, and original sample material.
Artwork : Leon Nockolds
1. The Cannonball Adderley Quintet – ‘Fun’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘The Place Where We Dwell’)
2. Gang Starr – ‘The Place Where We Dwell’ [Instrumental]
3. Chris Read – ‘Theme #3′ [Scratchapella]
4. Gang Starr – ‘Stay Tuned’
5. Gang Starr – 1991 Interview Extract
6. Ceasar Frazier – ‘Funk It Up’ (sampled in ‘Ex Girl to Next Girl’)
7. BDP – ‘Criminal Minded’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘Ex Girl to Next Girl’)
8. Gang Starr – ‘Ex Girl to Next Girl’
9. Johnny Hammond – ‘Big Sur Suite’ (sampled in 24-7/365)
10. Gang Starr – 1991 Interview Extract
11. Aretha Franklin – Young, Gifted and Black (sampled in ’92 Interlude’)
12. Gang Starr – ’92 Interlude’
13. The Crusaders – ‘In The Middle of the River’ (sampled in ‘No Shame In My Game’)
14. Gang Starr – ‘No Shame In My Game’
15. Leaders of the New School – ‘Sobb Story’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘No Shame In My Game’)
16. Eddie Hazel – ‘Frantic Moment’ (sampled in ‘Take Two and Pass’)
17. Gang Starr – ‘Take Two and Pass’
18. Juice Crew All Stars – ‘Juice Crew All Stars’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘Take Two and Pass’)
19. Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band – High As Apple Pie Slice II (sampled in ‘Conspiracy’)
20. Gang Starr – ‘Conspiracy’
21. Gang Starr – ‘2 Deep’
22. Gang Starr – ‘Hardcore Composer’
23. Jungle Brothers – ‘Straight Out The Jungle’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘Hardcore Composer’)
24. Sugar Billy Garner – ‘I Got Some’ (sampled in B.Y.S)
25. Gang Starr – ‘B.Y.S’
26. Gang Starr – ‘Flip The Script’
27. Ahmad Jamal – ‘Misdemeanor’ (sampled in ‘Soliloquy of Chaos’)
28. Gang Starr – ‘Soliloquy of Chaos’
29. Kid Dynomite – ‘Uphill Piece of Mine’ (sampled in ‘I’m The Man’)
30. Gang Starr feat Lil Dap and Jeru The Damaja – ‘I’m The Man’
31. The O’Jays – ‘When The World’s At Peace’ (sampled in I’m The Man’)
32. Schoolly D – P.S.K Wha Does It Mean? [Loop] (sampled in I’m The Man’)
33. Cannonball Adderley – Leo: Rosebud [Extract] (sampled in ‘I’m The Man’)
34. Charles Mingus – II B.S (sampled in I’m The Man’)
35. Skull Snaps – ‘It’s A New Day’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Take It Personal’)
35. Brand Nubian – ‘Step to the Rear’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘Take It Personal’)
36. Gang Starr – ‘Take It Personal’
37. JBs – ‘Gimme Some More’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Much Too Much (Mack a Mill)’)
38. Gang Starr – ‘Much Too Much (Mack a Mill)‘
39. Gang Starr – ‘The Illest Brother’
40. James Brown – ‘Funky Drummer’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘The Illest Brother’)
41. Eric B & Rakim – Eric B Is President [Extract] (sampled in ‘The Illest Brother’)
42. Richard Pryor – ‘Prison’ (sampled in ‘The Illest Brother’)