Wed | May 22, 2019

Story of the Song | ‘Something Special’ slows the pace

Published:Sunday | January 21, 2018 | 12:55 AMMel Cooke

At Studio One, 13 Brentford Road (now Studio One Boulevard, St Andrew), Kingsley Goodison saw the process of recording many songs which would eventually be deemed special in the unfolding of Jamaican popular music. A standout among them is Something Special, led by trumpeter Johnny ‘Dizzy’ Moore and tenor saxophonist Roland Alphonso. Goodison credits the song with restraining the runaway pace of Jamaican popular music set by Ball of Fire - and deliberately so.

“Johnny had just come back from somewhere ­ as the Soul Vendors, they had played in England. They said they were not blowing any ska. They were going to slow down the tempo,” Goodison said. So that is just what they did during an evening session. “Johnny had a handkerchief around his neck,” Goodison said, and this was because his throat had a bulge. “The rhythm was something else,” he added.

All the musicians were in studio for the single take to a four-track machine. Goodison described listening to Moore and then Alphonso.

“I thought, ‘This is a winner’,” Goodison said, going on to say that although he had four physical tracks to work with, Dodd’s approach made it seem as if there were many more. “With his genius, he brought it to 16. His mind made it a 16-track,” Goodison said.

The horn solos were not planned before the recording, Alphonso and Moore improvising when their turns came. And, Goodison said: “There was no competition between them to do the solos. When they were finished doing the song, it was a beauty. When it was finished, everybody was congratulating each other. ” 

The consensus was: “They not going to blow any fast ska again. My opinion is there was a song called Ball of Fire. It was a really fast song, and they were not going to play that fast again. Something Special bring down the pace.”

Moore would go on to have an album named Something Special with High Times, which also included Rock Fort Rock, Wash Wash, and Dizzy’s Madness. Alphonso also had his take on Something Special, which is on the 2000 Heartbeat Records release ‘Something Special: Ska Hot Shots’