Saturday, May 4, 2013

Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra Preview First Single From New Album "The Benevolence Of Sister Mary Ignatius"

In the Spring of 2011, Lee Thompson and Mark Bedford, two founding members of Madness, met at a rehearsal studio in London with the idea of playing - and paying tribute to - the 60's Jamaican ska and reggae music that had inspired them as teenagers to start the band. They enlisted an assortment of musicians (including Thompson's brother-in-law) whose playing they respected and with whom they enjoyed playing. The original goal was to have fun; do a few gigs; and take it from there. However, The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra quickly took on a life of its own. The gigs were well received and the next logical step was to try and capture the energy and passion of the live shows on tape - old school JA style.

The band convened at The Ironworks in Brighton, UK, home of Mike Pelanconi (AKA Prince Fatty) who is famed for his ability to capture the authentic sound of the Studio One sessions of 60's and 70's era Jamaica (see photo of Thompson and Pelanconi mixing the album below). The recordings sounded so good, that Dave Robinson, founder of Stiff Records (Madness, Elvis Costello, Ian Dury), got involved and suggested a guest vocalist. Enter UK reggae singer and producer Bitty McLean who contributed his vocals to the first single, a cover of Desmond Dekker's hypnotic track "Fu Man Chu" which is being released on May 27th.

With other songs in the can by reggae legends John Holt and Lyn Tait, as well as versions of King Curtis’ "Soul Serenade" and Lalo Schifrin’s "Mission Impossible," the band is ready to release "The Benevolence Of Sister Mary Ignatius" which is named in tribute to  the woman who opened and operated the Alpha Boys School in Kingston. Jamaica which offered education, musical training and opportunity to several of the earliest Jamaican ska musicians including Don Drummond.

“The Benevolence Of Sister Mary Ignatius” will be released on June 11th 2013. You can pre-order a copy on Amazon in the U.S. and Amazon in the U.K. In the meantime watch a video below for "Fu Man Chu" which was directed by Robinson (who also directed many of the early videos for Madness).

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