Originally appeared in The Coldest Issue # 1
During the early days of reggae of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when it was just starting to take off in the UK after exploding in Jamaica, Pama Records was one of the leading record labels. They had many sublabels, mostly used as outlets for specific producers. One of the most successful was Crab Records, a sub-label that today is known for the singles it released that were quite popular among the first skinheads in the UK.
Crab released around 70 singles from 1968 until it wrapped up in 1971. Although initially created to release singles from several producers, Derrick Morgan ended up strongly identified as the face of the sublabel with about 30 of the singles produced by him. No album length releases were put out by Crab, although a best of collection, titled “Crab Biggest Hits” came out on 1969 on the Economy sublabel of Pama. Tracking this LP down could end up costing you a few hundred bucks.
Today the label lives on through aficionados of skinhead reggae, as well as the current owners of Pama Records, Phoenix Music International, who’ve created animated videos of some Crab singles for Youtube and continue to make the music available through streaming services.
Although Crab Records still enjoys a small level of popularity today, like Pama as a whole, there isn’t a whole lot of information about its heyday. Unlike American soul labels such as Motown or Stax, no one has written at length about the life of the label. Although there are valuable resources such as John Bailey’s efforts, these are mostly discographies. Even some basic information such as who designed the Crab Records logo isn’t something that is out there. Hopefully in the future more about Crab and the wider Pama family of labels can be written.
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