After forming the ‘Top Deck’ sound system with his brother Ivan, Phillip ‘Justin’ Yap launched his label of the same name in 1962. Initial releases by local vocal acts sold moderately, but the following year, he made it into the big time with popular 45s featuring the  leading trumpeter, Baba Brooks. Over the next few years, up until his departure for the US in 1966, the young producer’s run of hits continued, due in no small part to his employment of the exceptional talents of Jamaica’s number one band, the Skatalites.

The very best of the group’s recordings, along with the remainder of Yap’s instrumental output throughout the Ska era is collected on this 40 track 2CD set. Alongside the hits are numerous lesser-known gems and alternate cuts featuring the very best of Jamaica’s Jazz-trained musicians, thus illustrating why Top Deck is today widely associated with the very best in original Ska sounds.


In 1962, teenage entrepreneur, Phillip ‘Justin’ Yap entered the ruthless world of the Jamaican music business when he launched the Top Deck label. Over the ensuing years, he established a reputation as one as being one the island’s finest producers, issuing material by a variety of Kingston-based acts, from established stars like Jackie Opel to up and coming performers, such as Larry Marshall and the Angelic Brothers.

Top Deck remained one of Jamaica’s leading labels throughout the Ska era, and the run of hits only ended after Yap emigrated to the US in 1966. This 2CD collection brings together the very best in the label’s vocal recordings, from the earliest singles by Joe G. Henry, through to the hugely collectable works of Barbadian-born singer, Jackie Opel.

Today Top Deck is widely considered one the great Ska labels of all time and this set, along with the complimentary ‘Top Deck Presents Ska Instrumentals’ illustrates just why!

AuthorSteve Muscutt