Various artists album review
Studio One Ska
Soul Jazz Records-Munich
February 27 - 2004

Tracking list

  1. Jackie Mittoo - El Bang Bang
  2. Ken Boothe & Stranger Cole - Artibella
  3. The Wailers - Put It On
  4. The Skatalites - Addis Ababa
  5. Roland Alphonso - The President
  6. Joe Higgs - Song My Enemies Sing
  7. The Skatalites - Beardman Ska
  8. Delroy Wilson - I Want Justice
  9. Tommy McCook - Sampson
  10. The Ethiopians - I'm Gonna Take Over Now
  11. Tommy McCook - Freedom Sounds
  12. The Maytals - Marching On
  13. The Skatalites - Exodus
  14. Roland Alphonso - Look Away Ska
  15. Don Drummond - Don Cosmic
  16. Roland Alphonso - Scambelena
  17. Andy & Joey - You're Wondering Now
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

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

Studio One Ska is the latest in Soul Jazz Records series of releases from the Studio One Records and once again the sound quality is very good and the booklet with its photos and notes first rate. Studio One Records and itís in-house band The Skatalites defined Ska music and made Jamaican music famous throughout the world. This brand new compilation features classic vocal and instrumental tracks from The Skatalites, Bob Marley and The Wailers, Delroy Wilson alongside rare tracks from the likes of Ken Boothe, The Maytals, Jackie Mittoo, Tommy McCook and many more.
Independence came to Jamaica in 1962. The musical soundtrack to this era was the upbeat, energised Ska, the first truly Jamaican music. Ska music and Studio One are synonomous with each other. Whilst Ska was only one style of Reggae that Coxsone Dodd and Studio One Records would release in itís forty year history- with Rocksteady, Roots, Dancehall, Dub and much more still to come- Ska was the first and defined Jamaican music as having itís own identity throughout the world. An important element of Ska was the Jazz that the Alpha Boys School-educated musicians brought to this new music. Roland Alphonso, Don Drummond, Johnny Moore (the frontline horn section of The Skatalites) all attended the Alpha School and it was here along with many other great musicians such as Joe Harriott, Rico Rodriguez and Wilton Gaynair, that the boys were taught classical, military and Jazz improvisation under the strict supervision of the Roman Catholic Nuns who ran the School.
In 1963 Coxsone opened his own studio at 13 Brentford Road, Kingston. He named the building Studio One and set about defining the future sound of Jamaican music. Young artists such as The Wailers, The Ethiopians, The Maytals and Delroy Wilson all began their careers making joyous uptempo Ska at Studio One. The group that accompanied all these artists were The Skatalites. The Skatalites were Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso (tenor saxes), Lester Sterling (alto sax), Don Drummond (trombone), Johnny Moore (trumpet), Jackie Mittoo (piano), Jah Jerry (guitar), Lloyd Brevett (bass) and Lloyd Knibbs (drums). Jackie Mittoo -at the age of fifteen- was one of the founding members of The Skatalites,and 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 band for many singers recording at that time. When The Skatalites disbanded in 1965, Jackie Mittoo and Roland Alphonso formed The Soul Brothers. The Skatalites brought their wide influences into the music. Ska could include Modal Jazz, Pop, Jump Up RíníB, Rastafarian and Burro music, US Western and film soundtracks, Easy Listening and even classical music. Consequently this CD includes proto-Rastafarian music such as Don Drummondís Addis Ababa alongside interpretations of UK mod songs like President Kennedy that is based on Georgie Fameís hit tune 'Yeh Yeh'. But there's also Latin-tinged tunes such as Don Drummond's Don Cosmic and straight jump-up Gospel/Ska from the Maytals, who deliver Marching On and the album opens with a relative rarity, the Eastern-flavoured modal instrumental called El Bang Bang by Jackie Mittoo. Also the Joe Higgs tune is definitely worth checking out as it hasn't been around for a long time. Scambalena is a nice melancholic instrumental by Roland Alphonso and the combination Ken Boothe and Stranger bring their storming dancehall classic ArtiBella. Rude boy influences can be heard on the wonderful Ethiopians' tune I'm Gonna Take Over Now and The Wailers' I'm Gonna Put It On. Exodus is a ska interpretation of a popular film music song.
Excellent compilation!

Teacher & Mr. T.