In Memoriam: 1941-2006
Desmond Dekker
by Carl Macki

In Memoriam: 1941-2006
Desmond Dekker
Secret Records -- CD -- 9.99
Running time -- 58 mins approx.
itunes download


Delroy Williams -- Background Vocals, Producer
Steve Roberts -- Guitar
George Dekker -- Guitar, Background Vocals
Leroy Green -- Drums, Background Vocals
Desmond Dekker -- Vocals, Songwriter
Also: Aubery Mulrain, Eddy Thornton, and Michael Rose

1. (007) Shanty Town
2. Don't Blame Me
3. Hippopotamus
4. Intensified
5. Israelites
6. It Mek
7. Jamaica Ska
8. Nincompoop
9. Opportunity
10. Pickney Gal
11. Pretty Africa
12. Problems
13. Rudie Got Soul
14. Sabotage
15. Sing a Little Song
16. More You Live
17. You Can Get It if You Really Want
18. Unity
20. Wise Man


This is the last studio recording by Desmond Dekker, recorded in London, January, 2004.  Born Desmond Adolph Dacre, in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1947, he was a true musical giant, and the patron saint of the island's rude boy culture. His influence on punk and skinhead music, especially in the United Kingdom, cannot be overestimated.

Dekker died in 2006 at age sixty five of a heart attack. As a renowned master of ska or bluebeat, the precursor to reggae, he brought those unique Jamaican musical styles to a wide international audience even before Bob Marley.

This CD shows his vocal powers to be sound, and he is backed by an impressive band. The production is crisp and virtually flawless.
Unfortunately, it lacks the scratchy soul of the recordings Dekker made with the legendary Jamaican producer Leslie Kong in the sixties. Dekker's creative partnership with Kong, who also became Bob Marley's first producer, evinced a certain raw magic that cannot be legitimately reproduced, much in the same way the Chess brothers were able to produce a vital and authentic sound from the Chicago blues musicians they first recorded.

The album contains some of Dekker's most famous songs, including a beautiful and very clear-sounding versions of "Israelites," "Shanty Town," "Rudie Got Soul," "You Can Get It If You Really Want," the Jimmy Cliff hit,.

Desmond Dekker had 20 number one hits in Jamaica, and a slew of them in Britain. In the United States, the highest he charted was number nine for "Israelites," in 1969.

In that year Dekker moved to England, and Beatle Paul McCartney added Dekker's name to the Lyrics of "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" on their White Album--""Desmond has a barrow in the market-place. . . ." Years later, Rancid would write, "the radio was playing/Desmond Dekker was singing/On the 43 bus as we climb up the hill," in the lyrics to their song, "Roots Radicals."

When Kong died in 1971, however, it seemed to put an end to Dekker's chart success. However, he enjoyed an international surge of notoriety in the seventies punk ska revival in England with the rise of bands like The Specials and Madness, got signed to the influential Stiff Records label, and worked with Graham Parker and the Rumour, and Robert Palmer.

While still recording and performing, his financial life became somewhat chaotic, and he declared bankruptcy in the mid-eighties, blaming his management. His association with The Specials resulted in an album in 1993, "King of Kings". on the Trojan Records imprint, which has also kept much of Dekker's back catalogue in print.

At the time of his death, Dekker was continuing to perform at clubs and festivals and had planned to release more studio recordings.

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