Various artists album review
By Special Request
21 - 10 - 2001
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 4||Sleeve : 5|
In the late fifties the sound operators on the Island started producing their own music using local singers and musicians. Initially, producers relied upon the limited facilities available at the handful of small basis recording studios scattered around Kingston, but in response to the increase in demand, more sophisticated set-ups such as those ate Federal and later W.I.R.L. were soon created. At first records were pressed in limited numbers, but as demand to make them widely available grew producers like Duke Reid, Coxsone Dodd and Prince Buster started selling them directly to the Jamaican public. |
The early releases had little to distinguish them from American R&B, but as time went by the off-beat became increasingly accentuated by the rhythm section, eventually creating a shuffle style known as 'Jamaican Boogie' or 'Blues Beat'. Over the ensuing months the trend continued until the music became ska which was to dominate the island's music scene untill the summer of 1966, when the slogan "If you're ready, come do rocksteady" became the slogan of the years 1966-68. Rude boys with golden voices - inspired by American soulbrothers like The Impressions, The Drifters, The Platters and the Moonglows and sophisticated like Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Solomon Burke - sung their tunes like heavenly angels. The leadsinger - Norris Weir, John Holt or Slim Smith - did the musical call and his buddies - the Jamaicans, the Paragons and the Uniques - sung the answers just like the American doo-wop groups often used to do. Solo artists like Alton Ellis, Ken Parker and Phyllis Dillon undoubtedly delivered their best outings during this part of Jamaican musical history. Their silky, passionate and languishing voices were often backed by the swinging riddims of the superb Tommy McCook & The Supersonics, who were the house band of the most important and influential producer of the age, Duke Reid, an ex-policeman and former soundsystem owner who ruled his rocksteady imperium out of his famous Treasure Isle studio, situated above his Orange Street liquor store.
The album opens with the classic tune "Here Comes A Time" by the Techniques, followed by John Holt's "I See Your Face". "Baby Love", featuring lead vocalist Jimmy Riley, approaches the greatness of Sensations tracks like "Those Guys" and "I'll Never Fall In Love" proves the perect vehicle for deejay Dennis Alcapone's scorching "DJ's Choice". The 3rd take of "Woman Go Home" by the Jamaicans was recorded in early 1968, featuring the lead voice of Norris Weir and also included Tommy Cowan who went on to fame as a leading reggae impressario. Ken Parker recorded a series of strong songs for Duke Reid, including "I Can't Hide" and the song included here "True True". "What More Can I Say" is an interesting example of the decisions that are made by a label when confronted by a good song. Originally recorded by the United Brothers the song was later redone by the Melodians, probably because it was decided that the United Brothers hadn't done the perfect job !
U Roy provides his take on the Jamaicans' "Peace And Love". He single-handed restored the fortunes of the label with hits like "Wake The Town" and "Rule The Nation" in 1970. Justin Hinds, here without his Dominoes, delivers "Time Pass By", a very rare track which was recorded in March 1970. The Ethiopians (Leonard Dillon and Steven Taylor) scored for Duke Reid with "Mother's Temnder Care" and "Pirate". Here they are featured with the lesser know reality track "Conditions Bad A Yard". The Termites, featuring Wentworth Vernal and Lloyd Parks, provide one of their biggest hits "Love And Kiss Up"."Take My Heart" is a rare outing by Phyllis Dillon who was the big female voice at Treasure Isle. "My Cousin" reveals a common theme of Jamaican humor, the cuckolded male, and features the voice of a male doing the female part, also a common theme. Another rare song is the Victors' "You Can't Stop Me", a driving early reggae tune recorded in 1969.
Although the legacy of Treasure Isle seems more important outside of Jamaica today than it does on the Island where the memory of the label's many hits has receded into the distant past, this compilation showcases once again the majesty that was Treasure Isle.