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Monday, January 15, 2024

Yellow Bird - Billy Vernon


Sad Sad Girl

Yellow Bird
Billy Vernon and The Celestials 
Mastering Engineer: Al Iton
Cover Photo: Frank Mair
M.C. Donald Topping
Whil 1038
West Indies Records Ltd.

From the back cover: The suave Yellow Bird Club of Church Street, Montego Bay is undoubtedly the most well attended of the new crop of night clubs that have sprung up on the Jamaican north coast circuit recently. The success of this club can be quite easily attributed to the presence of Billy Vernon and The Celestials, an instrumental quartet with the drive of a ten piece band and the gentle timber of a string ensemble.

In Montego Bay whenever night club entertainment is discussed, the catch phrase is always "Bird's the word." A very true saying because come ten o'clock each evening, the "Bird" is usually bulging at the seams with an enthusiastic clientele of tourists and local's alike who anxiously await the big moment when the music starts. Then it happens, Billy Vernon and his lavishly acclaimed Celestial's take the band stand and within a few seconds the tranquil atmosphere is changed to one of wild abandonment. Every square inch of dance floor is used to do the Jerk, the Dog, the Ska, the Cha Cha, the Bossa Nova, the Jump Up; you name it they play it.

The group consists of Billy Vernon, a guitarist and steel guitarist with a unique and exquisite tonal beauty as evidenced in his performance of the Lorenso Barcelata standard "Maria Elena" and "Yellow Bird" (in the latter he pays the steel guitar); Organist Marguerite Vernon "the girl with the ivory weaving fingers" plays her instrument with a total involvement that has to be seen and heard to be believed. Her outstanding performances on this album are "On The Rebound" and "A Taste Of Honey"; Bass player Winston Clarke is the hard driving pulsating type that gives the band an attractive and danceable rhythm at all times; the drummer, Al "Mr. Multi-Rhythms" Ison, who hails from San Fernando Trinidad, is famous for his ten minute solos, his little rhythm Orgy in "On The Rebound" speaks for itself.

The Combo is augmented by three vocalists who sing both individually and as a group. The are: Bob Williams, a real rhythm and blues type, heard on this album with Wilson Picket's "In the Midnight Hour." Jimmie Wisdom, who puts a lot of emotion into his singing ofers "If I didn't Love You," and Wayne McGhie, a soulful improvising type of performer, leads the popular "Sad Sad Girl."

In this album, we present a cross section of tunes from the Billy Vernon repertoire that have given the Yellow Bird and The Celestials international recognition.

Yellow Bird
Ska Suzanna
Sad Sad Girl
A Taste Of Honey
My Pussin
Wings Of A Dove
Maria Elena
If I don't Love  You
Midnight Hour
On The Rebound

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