Studio One Sound
Soul Jazz Records
June 30, 2012
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 4/5||Sleeve : 5|
Studio One is the most important record label in the island's history. Studio One pioneered the many developments of Reggae Musik; from Ska to Rocksteady and from Dub to Deejay. Many legendary artists passed thru Sir Coxsone Dodd's gates. Everyone from Bob Marley And The Wailers to Dennis Brown to longtime chanter Jim Brown (Nastics). London based Soul Jazz Records has rereleased over thirty albums and one DVD; chronicles to "The Motown Of Jamaica". Their latest compilation, "Studio One Sound" continues down memory lane.
The bulk of the cuts on this release were recorded when Studio One held full attention; from the mid 1960's to the mid 1970's. Sylvan Morris was principal engineer, Larry Marshall was vocal coach and Leroy Sibbles and Jackie Mittoo were audition masters and laying down riddims that are still urgent today. The empire employed over forty people and capable of pressing 500 albums and 4000 singles per day! Sir Coxsone had the baddest sound systems and owned Musik City; everything was in place.
This album starts out with a rare gem from Slim Smith. The ex-Technique/Unique put his heart out on every session. Hip Hug is a horn and riddim guitar treasure backed by the house band Soul Vendors (Jackie Mittoo and ex-Skatalites). Slim's "Born To Love" (1973) is a testament to his genius. One of Ras Michael (Michael Henry)'s first singles is featured here; Good People is a funky, Niyabinghi driven roots piece. Before carrying on Count Ossie's torch, Ras Michael played percussion with The Soul Vendors and hosted the first radio show discussing Rastafari! Lord Tanamo (Joe Gordon) founded the Skatalites in 1963. He is represented here with the fast moving Keep On Moving; presumably voiced in the late 1960's. Lord T didn't get respect due until the mid 1980's when the reunited Skatalites toured Creation and audiences were inspired by his vocals.
The legendary Wailing Souls belt out Trouble Maker, a lively percussion driven rocker that showcases Pipe's towering vocals. The coaching by Joe Higgs really helped their harmonies and career. After numerous lineup changes, Pipe and Bread initially put out quality Roots to this day. Before Rita Marley became a household name, she was Rita Anderson, a member of the Soulettes. A solo career spawned such gems as the ska soaked Call To Me, released as a Bamboo single with "Blood Pressure" on the flip. Johnny Osbourne's debut single for the label, All I Have Is Love (1969) is a powerful song that began a huge career. His 1979 Studio One album, "Truth And Rights" is a fixture in Reggae history. This dancehall don is still strong, having just played with Bushman at San Francisco's Mezzanine Club. Massive.
The magic continues with some lesser known cuts. The Martini's I Second That Emotion and Irvin Brown's falsetto sweetness on Run Come are crucial with the latter appearing as a single with "I'm Still Around" on the flip released in 1968. The Heptones were with the label from 1967-71. In that short time, Sibbles and company put out a staggering amount of greatness. Give, Give Love shows off Leroy's supreme alto and appeared on the 1971 album, "Freedom Line"; one of their last for Coxsone. The great Jackie Opel (from Trinidad) was a Studio One hitmaker for years until his untimely death for an auto accident in the late 1960's. One of his earlier sides, The Lord Is With Me is a Ska driven spiritual work backed by the Soul Brothers (house band after the Skatalites). This was released as a single with "A Little More" on the flip. Dub Specialist were a crack team of musicians whose work was put out from 1974-79. Such masters as Bagga Walker and Leroy Sibbles (bass), Freddie McGregor(drums!) and Richard Ace were dub specialists. Happy Feelings is a pure example of foundation Reggae; hard hitting rim shot, wicked drum and bassie. Prince Lincoln started his career as a member of the Tartans, who scored some Rocksteady hits. Prince Lincoln went solo and one of his Reggae efforts, Live Up To His Name is here. Hard hitting lyrics with a dread riddim. He later formed the Royal Rasses and put out stellar work before Zion called his name in 1999.
Larry Marshall is one of Reggae's unsung heroes. He is responsible for singing and creating the first Reggae song, "Nanny Goat"(1968). His There's A Fire with the Sound Dimension is early roots; emphasizing sweet vocals and a rock solid riddim. He was involved as Studio One engineer, singer, coach and mentor before hitting big with 1975's "I Admire You". Larry still rocks the stage and the studio with style and fashion. Roland Alphonso was a member of the Skatalites and virtually every Studio One session band. His instrumental horn piece, Rolando Special from the early 1970's is top ranking. His genius is partially for three of Reggae's most recognizable riddims; "Rockfort Rock" "Real Rock" and "Vanity". He continued working with the reunited Skatalites until his passing on Nov, 20, 1998; just six months after fellow bandmate Tommy McCook! This album finishes nicely with Freddie McGregor's Homeward Bound, a definitive roots anthem that shows full range of instrument and vocals. Freddie started with Studio One at age seven, alongside Ernest Wilson as The Clarendonians. His 1980 release, "Bobby Babylon" is a Studio One best seller and he has never looked back. Freddie appears alongside Toots Hibbert and Ziggy Marley in California's Wine Country in late summer. Pure legend.
"Studio One Sound" has been carefully selected. There is great representation here. Sir Coxsone Dodd generally treated his artists well; nurturing them positively to do their best. Every song on this compilation is heartfelt and genuine; no partiality here! Dodd was as resilient as his roster. A 1980 robbery forced him to leave 13 Brentford Road for New York. He returned in 1998 with a whole heap of artists ready and willing. On May 1, 2004, Brentford Road was renamed Studio One Boulevard. On May 4, 2004, after completing a mammoth session with The Blackstones; Sir Coxsone Dodd passed on to Mt. Zion. He left behind a legacy of over 6000 recordings; timeless music that defined a culture. Hopefully, Soul Jazz will continue to unlock the musical vaults. Highest recommendation to the nation.