Various artists album review
Studio One Soul
Soul Jazz Records-Munich
21 - 05 - 2001

Tracking list

  1. Leroy Sibbles - Express Yourself
  2. Norma Fraser - Respect
  3. Leroy Sibbles - Groove Me
  4. Sound Dimension - Time Is Tight
  5. The Heptones - Message From A Black man
  6. Otis Gayle - I'll Be Around
  7. Jerry Jones - Still Water
  8. Sound Dimension - Soulful Strut
  9. Richard Ace - Can't Get Enough
  10. The Chosen Few - Don't Break Your Promise
  11. The Eternals - Queen Of The Minstrels
  12. Norma Fraser - The First Cut Is The Deepest
  13. Ken Parker - How Strong
  14. Ken Boothe - Set Me Free
  15. Senior Soul - Is It Because I'm Black
  16. Jackie Mittoo - Deeper & Deeper
  17. Alton Ellis - I Don't Want To Be Right
  18. Willie Williams - No One Can Stop Us
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

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

Studio One founder and owner, Coxsone Dodd, was an avid record collector, a jazz connoisseur. As soon as he established his Sir Coxsone Downbeat Sound System he started buying in the USA the best new r&b tunes. Soon he would be licensing records for distribution in Jamaica, but exclusisves -with scratched out labels- were a must for Downbeat, and when the American public switched to rock'n'roll is was the sudden shortage of r&b tunes that spurred him into the studio, where he organised local musicians to produce their own supply of jump blues and New orleans r&b; and ska evolved from the encounter between these interpretations, such native idioms as mento, and other fovourites lika bossa, mambo and merengue, jazz and big band swing. In 1962 -the year of formal independence from Britain- he decided to build his own studio. Behind this affirmation of new nationhood and international ambition is a motive echoed by the Hitsville USA sign on the Motown building in Detroit, and Soulsville USA on the Stax office in Memphis, and by Motown's slogan "The Sound of Young America", where Studio One sleeves would announce "The Sound of Young Jamaica" : the power of music to transcend social differences. Artists such as Curtis Mayfield, The Delfonics, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, The Four Tops and Otis Redding were a great inspiration for both the artist and the producer on the island, and their tunes were done over by an array of Jamaican artists. This album highlights the productions of the Studio One label and is a fascinating collection of vintage Brentford Road adaptations of soul and funk classics. This excellent album has been compiled by the crew of Soul Jazz Records, based in north London, whose previous releases received rave reviews. Check out : 300 % Dynamite, 200 % Dynamite and 100 % Dynamite, just to name a few.
Leroy Sibbles played an important role in the history of the Studio One label. Not only was he frontman of the Heptones, he also was a superb bass player. He's present here with 2 solo cuts -Express Yourself and Groove Me- and he joins Dennis Edwards, shoulder to shoulder in the refrain 'Say It Loud I'm Black and I'm Proud', performing Message From A Black Man. One of the wickedest tunes here is Otis Gayle's do-over of the Detroit Spinners' 1972 hit I'll Be Around. Richard Ace's interpretation of the 1974 Barry White tune Can't Get Enough (Of Your Love Babe) interpellates with bebop fluency from Roberta Flack's 'Feel Like Makin' Love, a hit the same year. The Eternals are featured with their remake of Curtis Mayfield's 1962 'Minstrel and Queen'. Ken Boothe delivers his impressive rendition (12 inch stylee) of the Supremes' 1966 hit 'You keep me Hangin' On'.
The extensive liner notes provide an excellent historical background which makes this album more or less an historical document...need we say more ? Crucial!

Teacher & Mr. T.