The midway point in a year already vibrantly marked by formidable R&B Queens (Ain’t Gonna Hush), rarefied rockabilly (Stranger Than Fiction), exuberant sound system classics (It’s Jamaica Jump Blues Time!) and a whole host of other discovery-rich explorations, sees Summer truly delivered. Returning once more to Jamaica for a scoop of reggae’s origin sounds, Jamaica Is The Place To Go: An Invitation to Jamaican Mento, continues in the same vein as 2013’s first foray into Mento, Mento, Not Calypso! The Original Sound Of Jamaica. As indicated by the spirit and quality on display, the compilation affirms the voluminous and neglected spoils that defined a scene associated with, but distinct from, Calypso. Along with a smattering of Lords and Counts conducting enjoyably monikered bands and outfits (Cats, Seasiders and Mentones) The Godfather of Ska Laurel Aitken makes an appearance or two in league with a few earlier incarnations (The Boogie Cats and His Calypso Band) Tantalizingly mysterious too is the unidentified cut ‘Love, Love Alone’, an anonymous gem amongst many. Not so much ‘an invitation’ as an irresistable Carnival-flavoured insistence.
Accompanying Jamaica Is The Place To Go is a release which encapsulates Summer moods through the more familarly famed. Summer Songs, Summer Love, Summer Fun is about as directly reflective of its title as compilations of this nature can get. As pop of a certain vintage is entwined with teenagedom and the freedoms and memories synonymous with Summer and the holidays, Summer songs are in abundance yet the impeccable ones are rarer treasures. Compiled by Austin Powell (our go-to pop aficianado who masterminded It Takes Two, He’s My Girl! He’s My Boy! and the popular Forgotten 45s and American Music Library series) this 3CD set rounds them all up in one place, the ecstatic songs and the sorrowful laments, from big names including Ricky Nelson, Gary US Bonds, Bobby Vee, Frankie Avalon and Adam Faith and more obscure ones, conveying a complete portrayal of Summer through Songs of Love & Fun.