Fashion In Fine Style ~ Significant Hits Volume One
Reggae Archive Records / Fashion
CD / Digital Release
September 15, 2012
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
Launched in the summer of 1980 by reggae devotees Chris Lane and Dub Vendor's John MacGillivray, Fashion Records became the dminant player among UK reggae studio-cum-record companies. It all started with a small four-track studio under the Dub Vendor Record Store in Clapham Junction, South London, and from the outset it encompassed all facets of reggae, taking inspiration from Studio One (whose "Hi Fashion Dub" album inspired the label's name) and, in Kingston tradition, building its own production style at its revamped A-Class studio in nearby Forest Hill.
There, the label created its own riddims with musicians such as Mafia & Fluxy, Jazzwad, and members of Aswad and the Massive Horns. Furthermore they employed tracks from Donovan Germain's Penthouse set up in Kingston, Jamaica. For two decades -- they closed their business in the late 1990s -- they captured the sound of the UK as it was happening. Their constant stream of singles and LPs effectively defined the UK MC style, dominated the UK lovers rock charts, pioneered the UK ragga sound, released roots and dub and provided huge inspiration for the jungle and garage scenes.
After a long hiatus, Fashion Records has recently been relaunched in the digital domain but, with a strong demand for physical releases of their back catalogue from fans old and new, Reggae Archive Records (sister label of Bristol Archive Records) has been chosen as their partner to meet that demand with a comprehensive programme of vinyl and CD releases. They have been given access to all of the Fashion catalogue, including unreleased tracks. The compilation set "Fashion In Fine Style ~ Significant Hits Volume One" launched Fashion Records' arrival on the digital platform, and its physical release now also launches the new partnership.
The 20 track compilation, personally selected by John MacGillivray and Chris Lane, provides a very good overview of the various sounds and trends that the label successfully created and contributed to during its existence. It's pointless to talk of highlights as the listener is simply offered the very best from what is anyway an exemplary catalogue. The album kicks off with the very first Fashion Records hit, Dee Sharp's pivotal version of Leo Hall's 1975 Jamaican hit "Lets Dub It Up" -- the benchmark by which future releases were judged. What follows is a wonderful collection of tunes which includes more hits than you can shake a stick at.
Of course there's the Lovers rock genre with impressive bestsellers such as Alton Ellis' "Play It Cool", Winsome's version of Barbara Acklin's northern soul tune "Am I The Same Girl", Janet Lee Davis' "Two Timing Lover", Peter Hunnigale's "Perfect Lady", and the real nice 1994 combi "Baby, I've Been Missing You" by Janet Lee Davis & Tippa Irie, which comes on an updated version of the classic "Queen Majesty" riddim. Next up are two worthwhile cultural tunes with a sweet lovers vibe: Nereus Joseph's "Guidance" and Jah Mali's "Mercy Street".
Then it's time for Frankie Paul's wicked "A No Nutten" to usher in the dancehall sounds Fashion Records was famous for. The listener is treated to nine variations on the dancehall style ranging from roots themes to sound clash tunes and the early digital style to ragga. Andrew Paul's "Who's Gonna Make The Dance Ram" is a prime example of the label competing with all the Jamaican versions of the initial digital hit, Wayne Smith's "Under Mi Sleng Teng". Also fast rapper Daddy Freddy comes up with an exciting effort, "Yes We A Blood". Also present is Starkey Banton's amusingly dismissive "Jungle Bungle", which is interesting because its message is aimed at the genre that is represented by the 'jungle' remix of Top Cat's "Request This Style". General Levy's groundbreaking hit "Heat" and Cutty Ranks' 1991 hit "The Stopper" are dancehall gems worth hearing. The compilation set is rounded off in great style with "Herbal Dub" by Dub Organiser aka Chris Lane, thuse once again showcasing how versatile the label was.
This is a great opportunity to pick up some of Fashion Records' biggest hits, so ignore at your peril!