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“It’s been a difficult job collating information about the Aces International sound system and sadly the details remain very sketchy. They were based in Port Morant in the parish of St Thomas. The man who owned Aces was Jimmy and his set competed with sounds like Taurus, King Majesty, Aquarius and Courage International, all sounds hailing from the parishes of Portland and St Thomas.

The early eighties were the halcyon days for Aces and they are probably best known for being the home of Yellowman as he took the dancehall world by storm in 1980/81. King Yellowman (b. Winston Foster) overcame society’s prejudices against albinism and defying great odds he succeeded in reigning supreme in the dancehalls of Jamaica. He had tried to make it as a deejay first with Gemini without success before getting a spot on a small sound, Black South International. Around 1979/80 Yellowman made the move to Aces that would propel him to stardom and this in turn transformed the Aces Disco from local champions to big league players in no time at all. In fact Aces International were the sound featured in the groundbreaking “Yellowman & Fathead Live at (on) Aces” and this recording of the sound was one of the first, if not the first, album to feature live recordings straight from the dancehall. Yellow’s sidekick, the late deejay, Fathead (b. Vernon Rainford) could be heard chatting solo on the sound, but more often than not he was at Yellowman’s side adding his “oinks” and “ribits” to the proceedings.

Another notable Aces deejay was the youthful Little Harry (b. Claude Campbell) who had begun his career holding the microphone first on Port Morant’s Black Lion sound. Later he deejayed for Aquarius and according to Harry, a week later he guested on Aces Disco and gave such a good performance that earned him a contract to deejay on their sound. He worked alongside Yellowman regularly, gaining skills and experience, rising to challenge the other youth stars such as Beenie Man and Billy Boyo.

In the recordings we have, singers didn’t seem to feature very  often, but one who did turn up from time to time was the distinctive vocalist Jah Rubbaal (b. Gideon Bolton), a respected roots artist who has been associated with sound systems since the late fifties.

As for the set itself, it was a proper disco sound, having twin decks and was managed by Nigger Butler (b. R. Butler), who as well as selecting, could also be heard singing on custom made Aces “specials”. Other members of the backroom setup included Shaggy, Stereo and Lloydie. Unfortunately there isn’t any indication as to when Aces started to play out but the nine sessions that we have assembled here cover the years between 1981 and 1986 and they give you a good example of Aces International in action.”

 

 

 

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Aces International @ Old Harbour St Catherine, 1981

Featuring: Yellowman, Busta, Modelling Joe, Major Manzie, Silver Fox

Crew – Nigger Butler, Stereo, Shaggy

“Musically this sounds like the oldest Aces session and it was recorded in Old Harbour in 1981. This is Yellowman on the move mixing culture and slackness in equal measure and he sounds great. Whether boosting the sound in “Aces Weh Yu Bad So”, through the more serious tunes like “River Jordan” and “Honour Your Mother & Father” to the downright slack “Cocky Did A Hurt Me”, all the styles are there, and the crowd lap it up. There are other artists appearing like Major Manzie, who’s out to “Nice Up Old Harbour”, and Silver Fox, who has the “Remedy”. Apprentice deejay Busta shows promise on “Tell It To The Nation” but really it’s the major talent of Yellowman that is the show stealer here.”

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Aces International @ Skateland, Half Way Tree Road, Kingston 5, 1981

Featuring: Little Harrry, Yellowman, Sassafrass

Crew – Nigger Butler, Shaggy, Lloydie

“It’s showtime at Skateland in this rare, but short, recording of the Festival ‘81 JCDJ National Deejay Competition. Up for grabs is a first prize of $600 Ja with some top notch deejays all performing on the Aces Disco. This 30 minute clip is right after the result of the event has been decided. The winner turned out to be Yellowman with Little Harry running him a very close second. Sassafrass came next beating the likes of Nicodemus, Ringo and Toyan. Yellowman celebrates his victory with a “Tribute To Bob Marley” and “Bubble Under Me” and then joins together with the two runners up for a crowd pleasing “Pooping Contest”.

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Aces International @ Prospect, Portland, 1981

Featuring: Yellowman, Little Harry, Fathead, Jah Rubbaal

Crew – Nigger Butler, Stereo, Shaggy

“This is a full c90 version to the “Yellowman & Fathead Live at Aces – Feeding In The Dancehall” album and it turns out to have been recorded in the town of Prospect in Portland, which is contrary to what the LP sleeve notes state. Yellowman and Fathead control things both solo and in combination, running through some of their major hit like ”Fools Go To Church On Sunday”, “Leaving On A Jet Plane” and “Bubble Under Me”. Fathead goes solo on a wicked “Operation Radication” and Little Harry joins in briefly on ”Harry’s Having A Party”. On this taped version you also get to hear more of Jah Rubbaal, who sings ”Gunman” and “Give Me My Share” after which the “Yellow Fellow” tears into a memorable “Look Out, Look Out” chanted over the “Full Up” riddim.”

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Aces International @ Port Morant Community Centre, Port Morant, St Thomas, 4th September 1981

 

Featuring: U. Brown, Sammy Dread, Hugh Griffiths, Triston Palma, Errol Scorcher, Brimstone, Yellowman, Fathead, Ranking Spanner

 

Crew – Nigger Butler, Stereo

 

“Probably the most heard Aces session but it’s still one of the best and now sounding crisper than before. Recorded at Port Morant’s Community Centre  and features a bigger line up of artists than usual. U. Brown handles the mic most introducing the artists and showing his considerable talent in pieces like ”Domino Tournament”, “Me Chat You Rock” and the sound saluting “Papa Aces A Go Mash It Up”. Special midnight attraction is youthful singer Triston Palma, very much in demand with “Entertainment”, sung live here, riding high in the charts. Other guests from Kingston are Hugh Griffiths and Sammy Dread who are also in good voice. On the deejay front the “roach killer” Errol Scorcher versions Eek’s “Skiddip” and locals Yellowman and Fathead mix slackness and culture bringing many “forwards” from the boisterous crowd.”

 

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Aces International @ Yallahs, St Thomas, September 1981

 

Featuring: Yellowman, Fathead, Barrington Irie, Little Harry

 

Crew – Nigger Butler, Stereo

 

“Another September date for Aces and this time they visit the coastal town of Yallahs. The three main men for the sound are in attendance and all give their best over a selection dominated by Barrington Levy and, in particular, the “Crown Prince” Dennis Brown. His “Have You Ever” is massive in the dances at this time and Yellow can’t miss on the version with a medley of “Under Me/No Way No Better Than Yard”. Not to be outdone Fathead adds “Late Night Movie” and his take on the “Bone Connection” theme to the proceedings. In his short stint on the microphone Little Harry celebrates the advent of “Technicolour TV”.

 

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Aces International @ Whitehall, Kingston, December 1981

Featuring: Little Harry, Yellowman, Fathead

Selectors – Nigger Butler, Stereo

“St Thomas’ finest travel to Kingston for this Whitehall dance with a top trio at the helm. Youngster Little Harry controls things here, exuberantly working the microphone, flashing lyrics like “Creamy Corner” and “Mr Mini Bus Man”, before Yellow and Fathead join him. It’s at that point that the tape runs out unfortunately, leaving us with a short but entertaining Aces session.”

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Aces International @ 82 Chisholm Avenue, Kingston, 13th October 1982

 

Featuring: Eek A Mouse, Buro Banton, Yellowman, Fathead, Little John, Toyan, Ranking Trevor, Captain Sinbad, Uglyman, Papa Biggy, Lady Ann, Billy Boyo, Junior Reid, Santana

 

Crew – Stereo, Shaggy

 

“Many will be familiar with the live album “Junjo Presents A Live Session With Aces International” as released by Greensleeves, but this is the extended recording, featuring some material which didn’t make the final cut. There’s a succession of artists passing through the Aces control tower and they seem to have little time to impress. Of the artists who didn’t make it, perhaps Ranking Trevor, with “Lovers Feeling” and Captain Sinbad, with “Man Live It” were unlucky. Big timers like Toyan, Yellowman, Buro and the “only mouse that can sing”, Eek A Mouse all recreate their hits for this Junjo Lawes promoted dance.”

 

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Aces International @ Montego Bay, St James, December 1983

 

Featuring: Tiger, Jah Rubbaal, Yellowman

 

Crew – Shaggy

 

“Aces are on the road again, this time in Montego Bay for an end of the year session. With Yellowman’s former apprentice Little Harry spending most of his time working with Volcano he’s now taken on a new trainee deejay Tiger. Not to be confused with Black Star’s Tiger, he’s learning the trade and developing nicely here, following Yellow on the versions of cuts like “DJ Tambourine”, “Entertain Dem” and “Hey Little Johnny”. Shaggy’s selection here consists of music from dancehall rulers Triston Palma and Little John. It’s a pity we don’t get to hear more of “live” singer Jah Rubbaal, but when we do he has a stark message to all bad boys in “Another One Gone.”

 

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Aces International @ Port Morant, St Thomas, 1985

 

Featuring: Little Harry, Styno, Jah Rubbaal, Moonman

 

Crew – Shaggy

 

“It’s now 1985 and Yellowman is no longer a regular on the set but it seems that an older and more experienced Little Harry is back with Aces again. He bosses this tape getting far more time on the microphone than he used to. He’s grown in stature as a deejay and his styles range from the dancehall moves of “Tek A Set” through to the more serious issues of “Jamaica Under Pressure” and “Nuclear Weapons A Poison”. The crowd beat the fence when Jah Rubbaal voices “Come We Go A Dancehall” and local deejays Styno and Moonman, whose “Get Intelligent” catches the ear, also shine on this excellent Aces International session.”

 

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Aces International @ Billy’s Skateland, Grange Hill, Westmoreland, 1985

 

Featuring: Reagan, Yellowman, Superman, Bunny General,  

 

Crew – Shaggy

 

“Another Aces recorded at Billy’s Skateland and as it’s later on in ’85 the digital riddims are mixed in with the more traditional giving Shaggy’s selection variation. It’s always good to hear Bunny General in the dance and he sings and deejays his way through pieces like “Encouragement”, “Preacher Man” and the long-talking passage “I’m The Don”. Yellowman’s here too and he urges the crowd not to believe all the “Rumours” they read in the newspaper. Chatters Reagan and Superman also add to the party vibes in our final, and exclusive, Aces International sound session.”

 

Many thanks to Daddy White Squall for this exclusive session..............

 

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