Album review
Last Train To Skaville
Jackie Mittoo And The Soul Brothers
Soul Jazz Records-Munich
October 29 - 2003

Tracking list

  1. Train To Skaville
  2. James Bond
  3. Voodoo Moon
  4. Ska Shuffle
  5. Take Ten
  6. Chicken and Booze
  7. Honey Pot
  8. Mr Flint
  9. Dr Ring Ding
  10. Got My Boogaloo
  11. From Russia With Love
  12. Ska-culation
  13. Home Made
  14. Sufferer's Choice
  15. One Stop
  16. Hot and Cold
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : - Backing : 4/5 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 5

Jackie Mittoo entered the music business at the tender age of 14, playing professionally with his own bands The Sheiks and The Rivals. Coxsone Dodd invited him to play piano on a Studio One session and Jackie Mittoo was soon doing sessions on a regular basis. Shortly after this, a number of the regular sessions musicians decided to form their own group, and The Skatalites were born. Jackie Mittoo -at the age of fifteen- was one of the founding members of The Skatalites, one of the most important groups in the history of reggae music.
In a period of less than two years between 1964-1965 The Skatalites were the band in Jamaica, recording cutting-edge ska tunes for Coxsone Dodd, Duke Reid and Justin & Philip Yap. As well as their own, mainly instrumental, releases The Skatalites were the backing banmd for many singers recording at that time. The Skatalites were made up of Don Drummond, Roland Alphonso, Jackie Mittoo, Johnny Moore, Lloyd Knibbs, Lloyd Brevett, Tommy McCook, Ernest Ranglin and Lester Sterling.
When The Skatalites disbanded in 1965, Jackie Mittoo and Roland Alphonso formed The Soul Brothers. The Soul Brothers (featuring ex-Skatalites members Jackie Mittoo, Roland Alphonso, Johnny Moore and Lloyd Brevitt) were up and running as the new house band at Studio One. Other members in this group included Wallin Cameron (guitar) and Bunny Williams (drums). The Soul Brothers recorded at Studio One between 1965-1967. This was the transitionary period between Ska and Rocksteady where the music was a mixture of Funk, Latin and Jazz sometimes with a reminder of Ska and the hint of Rocksteady. During that period Jackie Mittoo was almost completely responsable for every Studio One recording. In 1966 he had his first solo hit "Ram Jam", a tune used for The Heptones "Fattie Fattie" tune. A string of Jackie Mittoo albums soon followed as well as numerous singles. It also led to Jackie touring the UK in 1967 with his band renamed The Soul Vendors. As leader of the in-house bands Jackie would play, write and arrange tunes for an array of vocalists at Studio One such as ken Boothe, Alton Ellis, Delroy Wilson, Marcia Griffiths and The Heptones.
Towards the end of the 60's reggae arrived at at Studio One. Jackie Mittoo emigrated to Toronta, Canada. He continued to return to to Jamaica during the 70's and maintained a close relationship with Coxsone Dodd, recording for Studio One as well as recording for other producers like Bunny Lee and Sugar Minott. In the 70's and the 80's many artists would revive the classic Studio One tunes, hence keeping Jackie Mittoo's songs alive. In 1982 Jackie once returned to Studio One to make the Studio One Showcase album. In response to the fact that so many artists continued to version his music, he made this album where he versioned himself ! In 1990, at the age of 42 he died from cancer.
Following on from Soul Jazz Records' earlier Jackie Mittoo "The Keyboard King at Studio One" comes Jackie Mittoo and The Soul Brothers "Last Train To Skaville", exploring the period 1965-67 when the Soul Brothers were the top band in Jamaica. This release could just as easily have been called Rolando Alphonso and The Soul Brothers or just The Soul Brothers as the group were essentially a collective, releasing material under their own name or under a nominal leader (usually Jackie Mittoo or Rolando Alphonso). The group's line-up changed over time with Bobby Ellis (trumpet), Bryan Atkinson (bass), Dennis Campbell (Sax), Harry Haughton (guitarist) and Joe Isaacs (drummer) replacing various members alongside the ever present Jackie Mittoo. The Soul Brothers' mix of musical styles is described as Ska, Jump-Up and Soul sounds. The opening track Last Train to Skaville signalled the end of the Ska era, as the Soul Brothers started to forge a new sound that by 1967 had become known as Rocksteady, a slowed down funky version of Ska. The main difference between the sound of The Skatalites and The Soul Brothers is the arrival of electric instrumentation such as Jackiešs organ as well as electric guitar on some tracks. All tracks here are dominated by Jackie Mittoo and his organ, except for the well know known vocal cut Got My Boogaloo. Further classics such as From Russia With Love and Dr. Ring Ding are included as well. The tracks that are new to CD are Voodoo Moon, Take Ten, Chicken Booze, Honey Pot, Home Made and One Stop. As usual Soul Jazz get ten out of ten for the presentation and art work.
One can always rely on the Soul Jazz Recorsds crew to get it right, and their homage to founding Skatalites member, Studio One music director and keyboard genius Jackie Mittoo is characteristically on the money.

Teacher & Mr. T.