Grab a ticket and climb on board we're going for a ride....
1. (THE) ETHIOPIANS-"Train To Skaville" UK Rio R 130 1967
Possibly the most famous Ethiopian's number, this ska classic from 1967 pops along at an imminently dance-able shuffle and is the perfect track to kick off our ska/reggae ode to travel!
2. TOMMY MCCOOK & STRANGER COLE-"Last Flight To Reggie (sic) City" UK Unity UN 501 1968
Mistitled "Reggie" instead of "Reggae", this flute led groover is narrated by one "Captain Streggae" with loads of witty lyrical observations ("and you'll be flyin' at 45 rpm...") on top of a funky rocksteady beat.
3. DESMOND DEKKER-"Rude Boy Train" UK Pyramid PYR 6011 1967
Desmond continued on the "rudie" theme after "Rudie Got Soul" with this mid tempo scorcher punctuated by some sharp brass and the famous "dibby dibby doo" chorus.
4. THE PYRAMIDS-"Train Tour To Rainbow City" UK President PT 161 1967
The Pyramid's debut 45 was this Eddie Grant penned tongue and cheek number with the lead singer acting as a tour guide/conductor ("for a moment if you care to look out the window you will see the house of the famous Judge 400 years, better known as Judge Dread" and "carefully to the right you will see the house of Prince Buster, he is a man that has given me competition so rest up") all on top of a nifty little groove punctuated by silly banter.
5. THE CHARMERS-"Skinhead Train" UK Explosion 2045 1971
One of the many skinhead "exploitation" records (and possibly one of this last) from the early 70's scene is this heavy duty and rare as hell 45 by The Charmers, their first for the Explosion label after a host of releases in the UK dating all the way back to 1961! No doubt it was lyrically influenced by Laurel Aitken's "Skinhead Train" (see below).
6. LAUREL AITKEN-"Skinhead Train" UK Nu Beat NB 047 1968
The godfather himself toasts over a funky rocksteady groove that's in part owed to "Train To Skaville" with some sharp brass accenting the bouncy/funky beat and his laid back improvisational vocals.
7. EWAN AND JERRY-"The Rock Steady Train" UK Giant GN 9 1967
Vocally not the strongest, this one owes almost a bit more to doo-wop/r&b than it does to ska and it's 1967 release date seems terribly dated, but still with a listen for the brilliant horn part!
8. SYMARIP-"Must Catch A Train" UK Treasure Isle TI 7050 1969
The Pyramids incognito (Symarip is Pyramids backwards...) debut was the boisterous rewrite of Derek Morgan's "Moon Hop" rejigged as "Skinhead Moonstomp". The flip was this mild reggae number that's nowhere near as brilliant as it's topside, but still worthy of inclusion here.
9. KEITH AND TEX-"Stop That Train" UK Island WI 3091 1968
Taking things down slow as we pull into the station....this rocksteady number from Keith Rowe and Tex Gibson dates from 1968, the last year Island used their iconic red and white label WI series.
10. KEN BOOTHE-"The Train Is Coming" UK Island WI 3020 1967
"The Train Is Coming" was one of the earliest ska tunes I heard when a teenage skinhead girl put it on a 90 minute cassette compilation of 60's ska. It's part ska and part boogie woogie shuffle with subtle hints of New Orleans r&b.