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Blue Beat Records was a record label that released Jamaican rhythm and blues and ska music in the United Kingdom in the 1960s. It led to the creation of the term bluebeat to describe early Jamaican music, including music not associated with the record label.



Blue Beat Records was a label of Emile E. Shalit's Melodisc Records company.[1] Melodisc specialised in Calypso and Mento music, and was formed in London, England in 1947, with strong ties to the West Indies. Shalit founded Blue Beat in 1960 as a ska-focused label after the positive response in the UK to (the then UK-based) Laurel Aitken's Melodisc release of "Lonseome Lover".[1] He placed Sigimund "Siggy" Jackson in charge of the label, with Jackson choosing the name Blue Beat, which was an adaptation of "blues beat", at the time a generic term for Jamaican blues music.[1] The first release on the label was Aitken's "Boogie Rock", which was licenced from Clement "Coxsone" Dodd's Downbeat label.[1] The distinctive blue label and silver logo first appeared with the label's third release, Higgs & Wilson's "Manny Oh".[1] The label reached licencing agreements with the majority of the major Jamaican producers, and released around 400 singles and over a dozen albums between 1960 and 1967,[1] with Prince Buster becoming the label's biggest star with songs such as "Al Capone". Jackson established a Blue Beat night at The Marquee in London, and fashion accessories featuring the label's logo also became popular.[1] Many Blue Beat recordings were played alongside soul music in dance clubs such as the Twisted Wheel in Manchester. The music was associated with the mod culture of the 1960s.

When the ska rhythm slowed to rocksteady in 1966, Melodisc decided that a new label was needed, and started the FAB label, with no new releases on Blue Beat after 1967 (although the back catalogue continued to sell for several years).[1] Jackson left to work for EMI, where he founded the Columbia Blue Beat label.[1] The Blue Beat label was revived in 1972 for the release of John Holt's "Ok Fred" single.[1]

In 1989, Buster Bloodvessel of the ska revival band Bad Manners started a brand new record label called Blue Beat Records and licensed the name and logo. Between 1989 and 1990, he released several records on that label, including the Bad Manners album Return of The Ugly. The Bad Manners single "Skaville UK" was the last Blue Beat single to make an impact on the UK charts, reaching #87 in 1989.

In 2004, Jackson was approached by band leader Marcus Downbeat with the intention of reviving the Blue Beat label and releasing a series of 7-inch singles in the style of the original 1960s output of the imprint. This resulted in the release of six singles by Marcus' band: No.1 Station, and several other records from Jackson's back catalogue, as well as one single each from ska revival band Intensified and Blue Beat veterans The Pyramids. These records were all limited edition vinyl pressings.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Larkin, Colin (1998) The Virgin Encyclopedia of Reggae, Virgin Books, ISBN 0-7535-0242-9, p. 31-32

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