Reggae Anthology: The Definitive Collection of Federal Records (1964-1982)
17 North Parade
July 13, 2010
Disc 1 - Take It Easy (1964-1972)
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 4/5||Sleeve : 5|
The 17 North Parade label is the leading record label if you're looking for essential vintage reggae. From the moment on that Greensleeves and VP joined forces they have been documenting the history of reggae in fine style. One of their latest efforts is the double cd 'The Definitive Collection of Federal Records (1964-1982)'. This collection shines the light on Ken Khouri, who was a pioneer in the recording of mento in the early 50s, the founder of the first major studio/pressing plant, and the boss of the Federal Records label. Before anyone else caught on, he had the vision to see that there could be such a thing as the Jamaican music industry. Although a lot of his productions are put aside by so-called reggae connoisseurs as 'commercial crossover stuff' he played an important role in the development of Jamaican music.
Ken Khouri was born in the parish of St. Mary in 1917. His mother was Jamaican-born to Cuban parents, and his father was Lebanese. In 1949 he bought a disc-cutting machine, while visiting Miami. Soon he started recording mento artists, Lord Flea's 'Naughty Little Flea' being the first tune that became an overnight success. He became quite popular on the Island and teamed up with Australian engineer Greame Goodall. Around that time he began cutting one-off acetates for the beginning sound-systems on the Island. He enjoyed good relations with the leading men of the sound-systems: Coxsone Dodd, Duke Reid and Prince Buster and many more.
In 1960 he expanded his business as he required premises at 220 Foreshore Drive (later known as Marcus Garvey Drive). His productions included reggae music, but also folklore music as well as pop and jazz instrumental albums. In addition they also targeted the mass tourist market with albums of calypso and similar folk-based material, aimed at the many visitors to Jamaica's North Coast hotels.
Federal Records used a variety of local producers for their productions, including Bob Andy, Lloyd Charmers, Bunny Lee, Derrick Harriot and Sam Mitchell & Keith Scott. In the early 80s he decided to sell the studio and pressing plant to Bob Marley's Tuff Gong Company. In September 2003 Ken Khouri passed away.
The first disc opens with fine ska sides My Daily Food by The Maytals and Eric 'Monty' Morris lovers ska tune In The Garden. Disc 1 holds two classic Hopeton Lewis tunes, both from the 'Sounds And Pressure' album. Sounds And Pressure was a hit in 1967, while Take It Easy from late 1966 is regarded the first record in rock steady style. The Tartans comprised the late Devon Russell, Lindberg Lewis, the late Lincoln Thompson and Cedric Myton. The group recorded a handful of songs with Dance All Night being their best selling record before the separate members went to pursue their successful solo careers.
Federal Records was known for commercial cover versions of international pop hits from all over the world. The Paragons even covered a German hit (Moderne Romanzen) by schlager singer Peter Alexander here entitled Talking Love. Front man John Holt did a smooth version of the soul classic Stagger Lee which was produced by then ace producer Bunny Lee. The female vocal group The Gaylettes did an uptempo version of the Dusty Springfield classic Son Of A Preacher Man. Byron Lee's long-serving lead singer Ken Lazerus is showcased on 3 three tracks here -- the first as a duet with Keith Lynn, and again as a solo artist on a version of Prince Buster's risquι hit Pum Pum A Go Kill You and a cover of The Elgin's Motown hit Put Yourself In My Place. One of reggae's greatest icons, Keith Anderson, better known as Bob Andy, is here represented with three wicked tunes. First there's a great uptempo version of Joe South's Games People Play and the two Bob Andy originals The Sun Shines For Me and (on Disc 2) Fire Burning, a tune which hasn't lost a bit of its power and beauty over the years. A true classic roots tune!
Disc 2 covers the period 1973-1982 and isn't as strong and essential as the first disc. It starts with Ooh What A Feeling by Texan-born singer Johnny Nash, who had been recording in Jamaica since 1968. This tune was a big radio hit on the Island for him. Boris Gardiner was as a bass player and in the 70s he worked as a session musician, playing in studio bands like the Crystalites, Aggrovators and The Upsetters. On Disc 1 he delivers a sentimental tune called It's Nice To Be With You, his interpretation of the Monkees' tune of the same name. Disc 2 offers yet another cover, a smooth interpretation of You Make Me Feel Brand New, originally an international hit by The Stylistics. Marcia Griffiths comes up with her interpretation of The Main Ingredient's hit tune Just Don't Want To Be Lonely, a tune that Freddie McGregor recut in the mid 80s, making him famous all over the world. Ken Boothe's international hit Everything I Own (plus version!) is here too.
Pluto Shervington's first Jamaican hit Ramgoat Liver reached the lower reaches of the UK chart in 1976, after Pluto had gained an even bigger hit when his second Jamaican single Dat soared to number 6 in the UK Top ten, earning him an appearance on the BBC show 'Top Of The Pops'. Lloyd Charmers delivered some excellent productions, one of them being Delroy Wilson's aching version of I'm Still Waiting. Yabby You protegι Wayne Wade is best known for his roots tunes such as 'Black Is Our Colour'. Here they rightfully included his greatest international hit single (12 inch style) called Lady, a cover of Lionel Ritchi's hit. It was produced by Willie Lindo and Paul Khouri and it became extremely popular in Europa, especially in Holland where it became a chart hit in 1983. The package adds an 11 page informative booklet with pics and lots of inside information.
If you're only interested in roots reggae, skip this one, otherwise we gladly recommend this nice package.