Album review
The Keyboard King At Studio One
Jackie Mittoo
Universal Sound
12 - 02 - 2000

Tracking list

  1. Get Up And Get It
  2. Black Organ
  3. Killer Diller
  4. Totally Together
  5. Hot Tamale
  6. Reggae Rock
  7. Oboe
  8. Summer Breeze
  9. Drum Song
  10. P. Cafe
  11. Henry The Great
  12. Stereo Freeze
  13. Wall Street
  14. Darker Shade Of Black
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : - Backing : 4/5 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 5

Jackie Mittoo entered the music business at the tender age of 14, playing professionally with his own bands The Sheiks and The Rivals. Coxsone Dodd invited him to play piano on a Studio One session and Jackie Mittoo was sson doing sessions on a regular basis. Shortly after this, a number of the regular sessions musicians decided to form their own group, and The Skatalites were born. Jackie Mittoo -at the age of fifteen- was one of the founding members of The Skatalites, one of the most important groups in the history of reggae music.
In a period of less than two years between 1964-1965 The Skatalites were the band in Jamaica, recording cutting-edge ska tunes for Coxsone Dodd, Duke Reid and Justin & Philip Yap. As well as their own, mainly instrumental, releases The Skatalites were the backing banmd for many singers recording at that time.
When The Skatalites disbanded in 1965, Jackie Mittoo and Roland Alphonso formed The Soul Brother. They became the in-house band at Studio One, but also recorded under their own name. During the next three years Jackie Mittoo was almost completely responsable for every Studio One recording. In 1966 he had his first solo hit "Ram Jam", a tune used for The Heptones "Fattie Fattie" tune. A string of Jackie Mittoo albums soon followed as well as numerous singles. It also led to Jackie touring the UK in 1967 with his band renamed The Soul Vendors.
As leader of the in-house bans variously known as The Soul Brothers, The Soul vendors and The Sound Dimension, Jackie would play, write and arrange tunes for an array of vocalists at Studio One such as ken Boothe, Alton Ellis, Delroy Wilson, Marcia Griffiths and The Heptones. Most of the tracks featured on this album are taken from this period.
Towards the end of the 60's reggae arrived at at Studio One. Jackie Mittoo emigrated to Toronta, Canada. He continued to return to to jamaica during the 70's and maintained a close relationship with Coxsone Dodd, recording for Studio One as well as recording for other producers like Bunny Lee and Sugar Minott. In the 70's and the 80's many artists would revive the classic Studio One tunes, hence keeping Jackie Mittoo's songs alive. In 1982 Jackie once returned to Studio One to make the Studio One Showcase album. In response to the fact that so many artists continued to version his music, he made this album where he versioned himself ! In 1990, at the age of 42 he died from cancer.
'Universal Sound' is a divison of the UK based Soul Jazz Records, a label specialising in re-releasing classic Jamaican music. They recently have released three reggae revive albums that every reggae fan definitely should check out : "100% Dynamite" , "200% Dynamite" and "300% Dynamite". This excellent album features a splendid collection of Jackie Mittoo tunes. It's filled with reggae tunes, funk based cuts and jazzy tunes, since Jackie Mittoo was heavily influenced by a variety of music forms - Soul, Jazz, Funk, and New Orleans music. Featured here are well known tunes like Drum Song, Henry The Great, Darker Shade Of Black and Reggae Rock. Furthermore the album offers a selection of lesser know tunes, and even Jackie's vocal interpretation of the Seals and Croft's US hit Summer Breeze.
Essential !

Teacher & Mr. T.