Studio One / Yep Roc Music Group
CD / LP / Digital Release
August 3, 2016
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Lead instruments : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
After the release of "The Wailing Wailers", The Wailers' debut album from 1966, US-based Yep Roc Music Group comes up with the next release in their reissue program of original Studio One albums. This time it's the "Money Maker" compilation set, which is quite rightly regarded as one of the rarest albums in the Studio One catalog. Originally released in the early '70s inside a blank cover, and later with the iconic 'cash' cover, it was pressed in very limited quantities and remained out of print until 2002 when a limited edition was released. On his very informative Downbeat Special website, Studio One collector/connoisseur Rob Chapman says about this album: "It took me years to track down a copy. The catalogue number suggests it was probably intended as the 22nd issue in the UK blue Coxsone series (the sleeve carries the Coxsone Records' Willesden address)."
Anyway, thanks to the people at Yep Roc Music Group who are working with Coxson Dodd's daughter Carol, this superb "Money Maker" album has been remastered from the original session tapes and is finally available on a wider scale and in digital clarity... a real treat for all Studio One fans. Half the album consists of instrumentals from sax player Cedric 'Im' Brooks and trumpeter David Madden, who represented the next wave of hornsmen to come into Studio One during the late '60s/early '70s. And then there's also keyboard virtuoso and Studio One's musical director Jackie Mittoo, who is present with three instrumentals.
Saxophonist Cedric 'Im' Brooks was a member of groups such as Sonny Bradshaw's big band, The Vagabonds, The Granville Williams Band, and Carlos Malcolm’s Afro-Jamaican Rhythms, before he moved to Philadelphia in 1968, where he enrolled at the esteemed Combs College of Music. When he returned to Jamaica in 1970, Brooks began recording at Studio One, making an instant impact with the horn section that played on Burning Spear's landmark single, "Door Peep". Teaming with trumpet player David Madden as Im & David (the 'Im' referencing his adoption of the Rastafari faith in an abbreviated form of Halie Selassie's 'Imperial Majesty' appellation), he recorded a handful of intense instrumentals at Studio One, with "Money Maker" and "Candid Eye" reaching number one and number ten respectively on the Jamaican charts.
The album, which features a more defined soul and jazz sound for Studio One, kicks off with Im & David's first hit "Money Maker", seeing these two great hornsmen blowing in fine style over a riddim played by Sound Dimension that was used for The Heptones' "Fattie Fattie". "Money Maker" also appeared on the 1970 released Studio One LP "Freedom Sound", where it was retitled "Soul Food". Next comes "Black Is Black" across Lloyd Williams' "Is It Because I'm Black" riddim, a truly beautiful instrumental that caresses the eardrums and can be heard over and over again. The same can be said about "Soul Brother", for which the duo took the riddim of The Heptones' "A Message From A Black Man". Less exciting, but nevertheless a joy to listen to is "Candid Eye", which is an intrumental take on John Holt's "A Love I Can Feel". With "Soul Walk", underpinned by Burning Spear's "Pick Up The Pieces" riddim, Im & David deliver a worthy album closer.
In 1963, Coxsone Dodd engaged Jackie Mittoo (then a member of The Skatalites) to serve as musical director at Studio One. During his years at Studio One he played on virtually every disc the studio produced, arranging much of the material and helping develop new songs until they were sufficiently polished to meet standards. When he began his solo career, he scored a major hit with his rendition of the Heptones' "Fattie Fattie". The instrumental smash "Ram Jam" followed in 1967, and resulted in a series of instrumental LPs for Studio One, among them "In London", "Evening Time", "Keep On Dancing", and "Macka Fat". It's always a pleasure to listen to Jackie Mittoo's keyboard play and his three offerings here are no exception. First there's his nice sounding version of The Heptones' "Only Sixteen" called "Feel It", which is followed by an original instrumental, the funky "Mixing". "Stormy Night" is a fine reworking of The Gladiators' reggae version of Brook Benton's much covered "Rainy Night In Georgia".
Apart from the instrumental chestnuts by Im & David and Jackie Mittoo this compilation also features "Black Man's Train", a tune from obscure singer Lloyd Williams, whose soul-inflected vocal graces the Wailing Souls' "Back Out With It" riddim, played by the Sound Dimension with the great Ernest Ranglin on guitar. Other tracks that feature the guitar maestro are "Black Is Black", "Soul Brother", "Mixing" and "Stormy Night". Sound Dimension & Ernest Ranglin have also laid the riddim for "Great Gu Gu Mu Ga", which features a bit of toasting by The Boss (most likely Coxsone Dodd himself).
This compilation, one of the best from the early reggae era that has been put together by Coxsone Dodd (especially when it comes to some consistency in mood), is a great work and it shows what excellent players of instruments Cedric 'Im' Brooks, David Madden and Jackie Mittoo were. Essential pick!