There is no doubt that Ripton Joseph Hylton AKA Eek-A-Mouse is one of the most uniquely talented artrists to ever emerge from Jamaica. He is one of those few reggae artists whose music is so widely appealing that even the average reggae fan is at least aware of him, and more than likely even owns an Eek-A-Mouse album or two.
While he got his start working the local sound system circuit and recording a few early singles with Joe Gibbs, his most significant work involved “singjaying” over hard ‘n heavy Roots Radics riddims produced by producers Linval Thompson and Henry “Junjo” Lawes. Eek-A-Mouse was part of the Channel One contingent that radically changed the sound and vibe of reggae during the period from 1979 through 1985. From 1980 through 1985, Eek-A-Mouse released seven of the heaviest and most influential reggae albums of the early dancehall era including Bubble Up Yu Hip (1980), Wa-Do-Dem (1981), Skidip! (1982), The Mouse and the Man (1983), Assassinator (1983), Mouseketeer (1984), and The King and I (1985).
While his albums were well-received in Jamaica and in the UK, Mouse built a career the old-fashioned way – traversing the world in a van and sweating it out on-stage every night in front of strange crowds in strange towns a million miles away from home.
Like his contemporary Barrington Levy, Eek-A-Mouse often sang about what he knew best – poverty. Like Barrington, Mouse was a supremely talented storyteller with the rare ability to relate the suffering of everyday life in Kingston, JA to those who had never even set foot on the island. Unlike Barrington, who has always been one of the most respected vocalists in reggae, Mouse was considered by many to be a novelty act of sorts based primarily on his strange and erratic stage performances, eccentric personality, and penchant for hard drugs. This is unfortunate because in an industry filled with unimaginative imitators and copycats, Eek-A-Mouse is a true original. There has never been, nor will there ever be, another Eek-A-Mouse.
I have compiled a mix of my favorite Eek-A-Mouse vinyl cuts which, in my opinion, best characterize his sound and vibe. Included in the mix are the Mouse’s hardest and heaviest 7″s, 12″s, album cuts and extended mixes. It doesn’t get much heavier than this. Linval, Junjo, and the Radics crafted a sort of “death metal for dance halls” – recordings which embody the early dancehall era at Channel One.
CLICK HERE to listen to Eek-A-Mouse’s legendary performance on the John Peel radio show at the BBC.
Rare video footage of Eek-A-Mouse performing live with Jah Malla in California in October 1984. Recorded By Charles Goodman
Rare live performance of “Hitler.”
Included here is an article on Eek-A-Mouse which appeared in the August 1, 1985 issue of Spin Magazine.
any chance to download this eek a mouse mix midnightraver ?