Clancy Eccles is a sadly overlooked giant of Jamaican music who is often credited with coining the term "reggae," an adaptation of the Kingston slang for loose woman, "streggae." Eccles was discovered in a talent contest by the legendary producer Clement "Coxsone" Dodd (in either 1959 or early '60, according to the former's recollections in the liner notes of the superb two-CD set Freedom: Anthology 67-73 on Trojan Records), and then became involved in many significant musical developments during the 60s and early 70s. He helped promote an early incarnation of the Wailers with Bob Marley. He set up his own label, Clandisc, in the late 60s, on which he collaborated with fellow producer and visionary Lee "Scratch" Perry, including work on the classic "People Funny Boy". He helped another important producer, Winston "Niney" Holness, get on his feet. He created some of the best instrumental, organ-driven reggae with the Dynamites. And he wrote songs and manned the board for hits by greats like Larry Marshall, Alton Ellis, Lord Creator, and Monty Morris, among others.
Today's irresistible 12 O'Clock Track is "Don't Brag, Don't Boast," a rapidly skittering protoreggae gem that finds the singer preaching modesty ("Why are you acting like a bag-a-boo") before asserting his own musical superiority: "When you hear this beat I know you'll move your feet / You're beginning to wonder, can you upset this beat? / I'm the originator of the latest craze/ I am the king of the reggae, I my know my music is sweet!" The accusations in the tune were lobbed at onetime colleague Perry as part of a series of musical exchanges between the pair about who really deserves credit for reggae. It blows my minds that the song didn't surface until 1990 on a Heartbeat compilation called Clancy Eccles Presents His Reggae Revue—because to these ears it's as sharp, hooky, and irresistible as any music to ever come from the island.