Archive for Jammyland

Hospital Productions opens Larger Store (Update)

Posted in News, record stores, Tom with tags , , , , , , on July 6, 2008 by criticalreviews

As I reported back in April Jammyland records, the beloved East Village reggae shop has closed it’s physical location, and is now only accessible online.

I thought that this would be the end of Hospital Productions as well…but I was wrong. Hospital Productions once located in the basement of Jammyland will reopen in the much larger main space at 60 East Third St. (between 1st and 2nd Avenues) where Jammyland used to preside.

I found this out when we walked by the shop yesterday, and there was a sign in the window saying that Hospital Productions will re-open in July. This was confirmed by the Hospital Productions website:

HOSPITAL STORE LIVES!

Hospital Productions is expanding to the full location at 60 East 3rd St. Renovations are currently underway. We send our salute to all the generous and dedicated supporters that assisted us in this time of transition. Thank you!

Dominick Fernow

We have the beloved noise outlet back, when will Jammyland emerge from the ashes?

You can read my Hospital Productions review here.

I don’t normally post news articles on here, but I thought this was important information that is relevant to several of my posts…I’m not going to make it a regular thing, but if necessary it will happen.

Cheers,

(Photo from Time Out New York)

(Tom)

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Jammyland Records

Posted in music, record stores, Tom with tags , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2008 by criticalreviews
60 East Third St. (between 1st and 2nd Avenues)
East Village, NYC

So I know I just posted about Count Ossie and I my be bombarding you with reggae, but I feel that it is necessary to get this up before Jammyland is gone.

On Sunday, I found out that Jammyland will be closing come the end of May (I assume due to a rent increase or loss of their lease). This is a really sad day for reggae, and music in general in New York City. Jammyland has been a reggae mainstay in New York since 1993.

Physically Jammyland is a very long and very narrow store, and if there is someone buying something at the counter it is even hard to fit in the door. But it is loaded with all things reggae. They have the largest selection of reggae LPs, 45s, and CDs I have ever seen (and t-shirts too). My experiences in the store have always been enjoyable….the sweet smell of incense and trying to lean over the mounds of Jammyland t-shirts on the floor in boxes to flip thru records. The employees are always friendly…from making recommendations, to answering questions, and even sometimes putting records on the store stereo so that you can hear them before you buy. Occasionally you will even go in and a DJ will be spinning 45s to figure out what he/she is going to purchase to play in their set later that night.

The first time I went in the store it was the most overwhelming experience I have ever had record shopping. I was more comfortable in Hospital Productions, at least I knew a handful of the names on the shelf. For those who don’t know Hospital Productions is the noise/black metal store, that is located in the old Jammyland recording studio, that you enter by walking into the Jammyland store front…going to the back of the store, and then down a ladder in to the windowless Hospital Productions. I knew literally nothing about reggae the first time I went in, and although the guy working tried to help me I had no direction and no idea what I liked. On my second visit I picked up the Soul Jazz’s Studio One Dub, and after getting some advice I went back and purchased a big handful of LPs.

The first couple of times that I was in the store I was totally blown away…and that was for two reasons: 1) the store has a killer selection, and 2) I was starting on a new genre of which I literally owned nothing. While Jammyland didn’t always have what I was looking for they always had something to temp me…it wasn’t their fault…I realize when I am looking for albums that came out twenty or thirty plus years ago that they most likely will be out of print. But with Jammyland you never know…one day that record just might be there. Someone in Jamaica or England might have been clearing out a warehouse, and if a couple copies are found… they will end up at Jammyland (that is how I happened upon Grounation). Even if they don’t have that specific obscure LP you are looking for the collection of Greensleeves, Pressure Sounds, and Soul Jazz records should be enough to hold you over. Jammyland, from what I understand, even makes trips and orders directly from Jamaica to get Jamaican pressings of albums you typically wouldn’t see in the States (I have picked up random Linval Thompson, and Sly and Robbie records, as well as a Jamaican press of The Upsetters’ Return of the Super Ape).

Their prices are also hard to beat. I love being able to walk into a store, and if you look a little bit you can walk out with a rad roots or dub record for as cheap as $9.99 (I find it a rare occasion these days when you can get a new record for $10, but at Jammyland as long as your willing to look this can happen often). But as you can assume some records go up in price pretty quickly…it is just as easy to spend $25 on an album as it is to spend $10.

Jammyland is a bit messy and disorganized but so entirely unique that it couldn’t exist anywhere else (well maybe in Brooklyn). I sit here listing to Augustus Pablo’s Africa Must Be Free by 1983 Dub (the second record I ever purchased from the store) reminiscing on Jammyland…I guess it will never completely be gone as long as their mail order is still in action, but it is really sad to think that I will never be able to walk into this shrine to Jamaican roots music again.

While I was told that the store was looking for a new location there is no word yet of if it will happen/where/and when, and I guess this means Hospital Productions will also be looking for a new home too. This will be two tremendous (hopefully temporary) losses for New York’s music scene. I plan on making at least a couple more trips to these wonderful stores before they are gone…they are a great example of what independent record stores should be.

If possible show your support in the next month…I’m sure Jammyland and Hospital Productions will both appreciate it.

Photo of Jammyland from the NY Times

also related: my review of Hospital Productions.

(Tom)

Count Ossie and The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari- “Grounation” 3xLP (1973)

Posted in music, records, Tom with tags , , , , , , , on April 17, 2008 by criticalreviews

Going to college in Charleston kinda left a bad taste for reggae with me…while Andolinis Pizza always played great old school stuff I was too blinded by all of the frat boys wearing Bob Marley t-shirts to notice the great music they had on. But reggae really hit me sometime last fall. I had been listening to Mystic Sound on East Village Radio and Tunnel One on WNYU, and really liked what I heard but didn’t know where to start with purchasing LPs. I had recently come back into contact with a friend of mine, Jay (formerly of Andolinis Pizza), who does a couple really rad internet radio shows out of Austin, TX. Jay started me off with some suggestions, and now when ever I have a question I tend to shoot him an email. My brother got me for X-Mas a copy of Soul Jazz’s Studio One Roots and the first song on it is a short little instrumental number by Count Ossie and the Cyclones (which I was living and dying with for most of January and February). I did some research into it, and didn’t come up with much so I sent Jay an email and he told me to check out Count Ossie’s classic album Grounation.

So I had heard that Jammyland, the great reggae shop in the East Village, had closed and stopped in to confirm this was just a rumor. While Jammyland was open I found out, and very sadly so, that they will be closing thier doors at the end of May. Jammyland’s rent was raised, and they are currently looking for a new spot, but the guy working the store didn’t sound super positive (I guess this will be a temporary end to Hospital Productions as well). One good thing that did come out of my visit to Jammyland was that they finally tracked down some copies of the currently out of print Grounation on LP.

So I was skeptical at first of the LP. I had read that Grounation was typically a scratchy sounding record, but I took my chances (after a little encouragement from klk). The album art is fantastic:

The records, and there are three of them, were housed in plastic bags (typical of reggae vinyl pressed in Jamaica from my experience thus far). I took care of that as soon as I got home getting them in proper dust jackets. While the records themselves have quite a bit of popping and crackling, especially when the needle gets toward the center, but this is just due to the press not the condition of the vinyl…. the music is amazing.

Count Ossie is known for bringing Nyabinghi culture (which is considered the strictest form of Rastafarianism) to reggae. Ossie is credited not only with creating many of the Nyabinghi rhythms as well as being the first to record Nyabinghi drumming, but many music historians credit his song “Oh Carolina” (a version of which is on Groundation) as being the first reggae record ever made.

Musically Groundation is extremely hypnotic, and this is mainly because of the drumming, and overall has more of a tribal feel(much more so than any of the other reggae records I have). The album lyrically is mainly talking and preaching over the music (there is a little singing), and chanting (which are characteristic of Nyabinghi Celebrations aka Grounations). The title track of the album is over 30 minutes long, and takes up the entire 3rd LP. This album is raw, and you can tell that it was recorded in the early days of reggae. I can see how reggae, overall, was greatly influence by The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari not only in Nyabinghi rhythms and drumming, but even in vocals and music, especially if you listen to “Oh Carolina” (this is the most traditional sounding tune on the album).

I think of this record as a cultural experience, and very few albums give me the feelings and chills that this one does…if you play it loud enough it almost feels like you are in the middle of the ceremony…like you are sitting next to one of the drummers (so much so that some of the drums are much louder at times than others), and the singer is preaching to you. Spiritual.

I can say it is really unlike anything I have ever heard, and I highly recommend it, if you have any interest in reggae music.

Although I can’t embed it…you can listen to “Oh Carolina” here (as well as many others)

Jay, mentioned above, helped me out with a bit of my history and currently spins roots and dub records on kvrx.org from Monday night/Tuesday from 12am-1am Eastern time, and on KAOS959 8-10pm on Tuesdays. Thank for everything Jay!

(Tom)