The mento genre has been ostricised by it’s more accessible and mainsteam neighbours, calypso, reggae and ska. Originally a means of spreading news and tales, mento was the first recorded Jamaican music. Although the latest album by The Jolly Boys, ‘Great Expectation’ isn’t exactly mento in its truest form, covers such as Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab’ styalised as such certainly introduces the genre to a new generation.
Fronted by the gravel-voiced Albert Minott, the boys set their maracas to stun kicking off the record with Iggy Pop favourite ‘The Passenger’. Ever-charming, each track can’t help but put a smile on your face; clever and satisfying covers delivered with unfaltering cool and deliciously rich vocals to make your knees melt.
Many of the band members are now in their 70s and 80s and The Jolly Boys may appear grey and past their ‘best-before’ date. However 60 years ago the boys were commited to hedonistic partying, often on the yacht of riotous fellow Port Antonio resident Errol Flynn. In accordance with the traditional mento theme, The Jolly Boy’s choice of covers on Great Expectation appear to have been selected for the hedonistic lyrical subject matter, most tracks covering sex, drugs and rock n’ roll.
Light-hearted and undemanding, versions of Cash’s ‘Ring Of Fire’, The Door’s ‘Riders On The Storm’ and personal favourite alongside the aforementioned Iggy Pop cover, ‘Golden Brown’ by The Stranglers all offer a jocular alternative to classics and contemporary hits - entertaining and accessible music that unjustly remains unheard outside of the Caribbean.