Eek-a-Mouse ‘Eek-Ology’ 2CD +DVD (VP) 4/5

Eek-A-MouseThe singjay tradition was a unique and innovative development in the DJ style that emerged during the early 1980s and Ripton Hilton aka Eek-a-Mouse was its original practitioner. In fact he originally started out as a singer and some have made a parallel between his singing voice and that of Horace Andy. However, Hilton soon realised that he could create a niche by combining voice with the kind of scat vocalese that takes a leaf out of jazz singers such as Jon Hendricks, Eddie Jefferson and Leon Thomas. In Eek-a-Mouse’s case, he used onomatopoeic phrasing which immediately attracted the listener’s attention in between what could be more serious social commentary. This extremely well presented set brings together virtually all his most memorable songs including a BBC session for John Peel from 1983 when Eek-a-Mouse was at the height of his popularity and a fine representation of live performance with four songs delivered with the Saggitarius band at the 1982 Reggae Sun-splash in Kingston. Of particular note to collectors are the sides recorded by the Mighty Two Of Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson that were only issued after his major hit with Henry ‘Junju’ Lawes. The former include from 1980 ‘Virgin girl’ and ‘Once a virgin’, the originals of both of which now fetch considerable sums. At the time the Mighty Two were far from convinced that the singjay style would work, but they were to be proved wrong. Eek-a- mouse hit the big time with ‘Wa-do-dem’ which for many personifies the melodic side of the dancehall craze that was now influencing Jamaican popular music and this tied in with other DJs such as General Echo, Michigan and Smiley and, arguably the most influential of all, Yellowman. The ad-libs of Eek-a-Mouse became household refrains on everyone’s lips at the time and he followed up with ‘Ganja smuggling’ and the sound system favourite ‘Sensee Party’ for Linval Thompson. For a period of four-five years, Eek-a-Mouse was on the very top of his game and issued some more serious material with ‘Anarexol’ and ‘Terrorist in the city’ being notable alongside the international political dimension to ‘Neutron bomb’ in which the singjay introduces the Cold war, Falklands conflict and even Iran into the mix. By the mid-1980s the combination of the digital revolution underway and slackness in DJ content meant Eek-a-Mouse’s influence was on the wane. He returned in the early 1990s with an album produced by Gussie Clarke and a terrific song in ‘Rude boy gone a foreign’ which was a satire on the prevailing lawlessness on the island. A twenty minute snip of Eek-a-Mouse in concert on the accompanying DVD is of excellent quality, even if there are just two basic camera angles, and his lengthy spoken intros are perfectly captured here. Four 12″ mixes are thrown in to the generous double CD selection. Only a couple of items from the ‘Mousketeer’ album are omitted. Tim Stenhouse