A somewhat nostalgic look at rediscovered classics. The only rule is that each recording be at least ten years old. This is our comfort music. Brought to you by Pel, raven + crow studio, and friends.
Alton Ellis ft. Hortense Ellis
“Breaking Up is Hard to Do”
Mr Soul of Jamaica/Respect to Studio One
Treasure Isle/Studio One
1967/1974/1994

respect-to-studio-oneI promise we’ll get off the meta train soon, but Paul’s post last week on Norma Fraser’s excellent take on Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut is the Deepest” got me thinking about my favorite female fronted reggae track, “Breaking Up” by the grandfather of rocksteady, Alton Ellis.

The song went through a number of variations over the years—thus the bevy of release dates listed—but my favorite is this one he did with his sister, Hortense Ellis, taking lead vocals.

When you looked at me and you said goodbye
You made me cry
You made me cry

Alton—born in Kingston, Jamaica—had a long and storied career in music, starting at a very young age in a family of music-lovers and writing + performing up until the end of his life in 2008, when succumbed to cancer at age 70.

As a Jamaican official said at Alton’s funeral, “even as we mourn the great Alton Ellis, we must give thanks for his monumental contribution to the development of Jamaica’s popular music.”

Plus he had more than twenty children, so that’s quite a legacy.

You can get this particular release on the excellent Respect to Studio One compilation, which I’d highly recommend for any lovers of early reggae, rocksteady, and ska. It also features some great tracks from the Heptones and Lone Ranger, among others.

Alton Ellis & Hortense Ellis - Breaking Up