Throw your comb away
What makes the „Twinkle Brothers” an outstanding reggae-band are above all their soulful voices and the melodies alluding to soul and gospel music. But there is just one word to describe their music: “Roots”!
They may have a strange name, but the Twinkle Brothers are not some dubious magicians or a glam rock band. The two brothers Norman and Ralston Grant are one of the real classics in Jamaican Roots-Reggae. But while everyone knows about Bob Marley and perhaps Peter Tosh, the Twinkle Brothers are somehow underexposed – and that is really a pity.
Born in the ghetto of Falmouth, a worker’s city in the north of Jamaica, Norman and Ralston Grant did not have an easy start as musicians. At first they had to create their own instruments, because they did not have money to buy them. A nice anecdote is how they built an guitar just out of a sardine can and some fishing line. This was at the age of six and eight.
The conception of TV-shows searching for new stars in music business, are not as new as we may think. When Jamaica got independent from Great Britain in 1962, the “Pop and Mento” festivals, a national competition for musicians, were founded. Norman and Ralston took part in these right from the start. These competitions were organized in a way, that you first have to win the parish competition, before you make it to the regional levels and from there to the national finals. For several years the Twinkles were parish champions, but it took three years until they succeeded the regional competition and made it to the finals. According to the two brothers they were cheated out on the regional level for two years. Anyway, when they finally reached the national finals they won the prize for the best group and Norman also won First Place in the “solo” category. From this time on they stayed for many years on top, almost unchallenged. In 1970 the Brothers won Third Place at the Jamaica Festival Song competition behind Hopeton Lewis an “The Jamaicans”, which is quite a success.
During that time the two boys with the official surname Grant joined a band called “The Cardinals”. There they were the only boys coming from a real ghetto. With “The Cardinals” they played in several nightclubs and hotels all over Jamaica. So this might have been the first step of getting out of their poor parish.
In the late sixties the Twinkle Brothers started their first recordings such as Normans solo “Someone Help Me Please” at notable reggae labels like “Beverly’s” or “Treasure Isle”. At 1970 they decided to set up their own label called “Twinkle Music”. Their first LP called “Rasta Pon Top” was released in 1975. Their most outstanding album, which became a real classic in reggae music is “Countrymen”, originally released in 1980, including the famous Rasta anthem: “Since I Threw The Comb Away”. Today they have already recorded more than 60 records on “Twinkle Music”, containing at least 40 LPs by the Twinkle Brothers themselves.
The formation of the band changed from time to time. Even Norman, who is often seen as head of the Twinkle Brother’s, once left the band for a short time to take over the lead singer’s part at “Inner Circle” after Jacob Miller’s death in 1980. Besides Norman and Ralston as the “hard core” of the band there are also other family members and friends featured, just like Della Grant, Ralston’s wife. The twinkling reggae-veterans have been touring all over the world, playing on numberless festivals an giving many concerts.
What makes the Twinkle Brothers an outstanding reggae band is above all their soulful voices. Their melodies are often inspired by soul or even gospel music. This touch of soul, that more represented by Norman’s voice, than by explicit quotations of soul music, but becomes obvious, when comparing the Twinkles with other reggae bands. Nevertheless the Twinkle’s themes are classical Rastafarian ones and it would miss the point to say the Twinkle Brothers would create some kind of reggae-soul fusion. The only word that is befitting to describe their music is: “Roots”. If you want to express it in a superlative way, one can say that “Twinkle Brothers” recorded some of the most stirring and captivating tunes of reggae music ever.
Today, after more than 40 years of career, those reggae soldiers didn’t loose their allurement. Still they are searching for new challenges and new sounds. A fascinating project took place in 1991, when they combined their Roots-Reggae sound with the sound of the mountaineers band “Trebunie Tutki” from Poland. This was one of the very rare projects where two extremely different styles of music – and even two cultures far away from each other – meet and really did something that lasts. The Album “Higher Hights” is often called a “milestone” or the product of an “historical meeting” and won many prizes such as the “Fryderyk Music Award” ’95 and ’96. This root-reggae-mountaineer-folk-music-project was even called the most exciting experiment on the Berlin Music Fair ’94.
A breathtaking reunion of Twinkle Brothers and Trebunie Tutki took place on this years “Festival of World Cultures – Window onto the World” on the beach of Gdynia in Poland. Who ever saw some Rasta-men playing music dancing around on stage with Mountaineers from the south of Poland might regain his believe in the understanding of the peoples.
The Twinkle Brothers – Norman and Ralston Grant – were born in Falmouth in the north of Jamaica. Both started to sing at the Sunday school choir and built their own instruments at the age of six and eight. After they succeeded the National “Pop and Mento” competition, they won third place at Jamaica Festival Song competition in 1970. In the same year they set up their own lable “Twinkle Music” and released their first LP record ”Rasta Pon Top”, which is followed by numerous records until today. They have produced more than 6o records plus many singles and Live albums. The performed in quite a lot countries in Europe Africa an America. Today the Twinkle Brothers live and work in London.
First Place in National finals of “Pop an Mento” competions in the categories: “group” an “solo” (Norman).
1970: Third Place at Jamaica Festival Song Copetition
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"Window onto the World"
(08 September 05 - 10 September 05)