Tag Archives: Coxsone Dodd

A great relaunch from Studio One and Soul Jazz

Many artists, producers and labels in the world of reggae music aspire on being the founder of the genre. Who invented reggae and where it was invented could probably be a topic for near endless discussions.

One man who would certainly pop up in such a conversation is Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, producer and founder of Studio One, a business that covered almost every aspect of the music industry – soundsystem, pressing plant, auditioning, recording studio, publishing house and more.

Under his tutelage several singers and groups rose to international prominence and virtually every artist in Jamaica wanted to work for Coxsone in the 60’s and 70’s.

Among the artists that recorded at Studio One you’ll find some of the household names in reggae music. You name them and they’ve probably cut at least one track 13 Brentford Road in Kingston 5, where the studio was located until it closed down in 1979, when Coxsone got tired of the violence and moved to Brooklyn, New York.

Some of the most acclaimed artists that recorded at Studio One is featured on the compilation The Legendary Studio One Records: Original Classic Recordings 1963-80 out now on Soul Jazz Records. It has been three years since the latest Studio One issue from Soul Jazz. And it is more than welcome.

It contains a total of 18 tracks that covers ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub and dancehall and is something a sampler with well-known and lesser known artists and tunes.

Included are The Skatalites scorching Ball of Fire and Michigan & Smiley’s pulsating Rub a Dub Style in a brilliant extended version complete with sound effects.

Other highlights include Prince Jazzbo’s haunting Rock Fort Dub and guitar virtuoso Ernest Ranglin’s beautiful instrumental Ranglin Doodlin’.

This compilation is a great relaunch of a very fruitful collaboration and according to the press release there are more to come in the end of the year. Bring it on!

The Legendary Studio One Records is available on CD, 2xLP and digital download.

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SoulJazz covers the art of Studio One

SoulJazz Records is about to put out a book on the cover art of legendary label Studio One, owned and run by one of the greatest producers in reggae music – Clement “Coxsone” Dodd (1932-2004).

Studio One is sometimes described as iconic as Motown was to jazz, or Blue Note for Jazz. Several of the most beloved and utilized riddims were originally laid for Studio One by musicians such as Jackie Mitto and Leroy Sibbles. Riddims like Full Up, Real Rock, Mean Girl and Satta Massagana saw the light at Studio One.

Chris Blackwell – founder of Island Records – has described Studio One as the University of Reggae. And there is some truth to that. Almost every well-known Jamaican artist from the 60’s and 70’s did recordings for the label – Bob Marley, Horace Andy, Alton Ellis, Burning Spear, The Abyssinians, Sugar Minott and many, many more.

The Cover Art of Studio One Records is edited by Stuart Baker and claims to be the first book ever  to tell the story of Studio One and the many artists whose careers it launched.

It features hundreds of full-size Studio One record cover designs and original artwork, as well as rare and exclusive photographs, original flyers and artist interviews.

Available on November 30th. File it right next to your copy of Stir it Up: Reggae Album Cover Art.

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Alpheus has a timeless taste



UK-singer Alpheus recently dropped his third album From Creation to wide critical acclaim. Reggaemani got a chance to talk to him about his love for ska, rock steady and legendary producer Coxsone Dodd.

Alpheus

Alpheus grew up listening to ska and rock steady music

I had never heard of Neil “Alpheus” Martin until I read about his third and latest album From Creation, produced by Spanish talent Roberto Sánchez. A bit strange since he has recorded for legendary producer Coxsone Dodd as well as French label Special Delivery.

From Creation is milestone in Alpheus’ career. He has given up on one drop riddims. Now his music will be all about ska, rock steady and roots rock steady. At least that is what he told online magazine United Reggae some months ago.

“I think I made a few people upset when I mentioned that”, laughs Alpheus on the phone from Roberto Sánchez studio in Santander, Spain, and continues:

“There is a new kind of reggae now. The new one drop. I mean there are good songs, but I prefer ska, rock steady and roots rock steady. It makes me feel good. And it stands the test of time. It doesn’t sound old or new. It’s just great music.”

Love for ska and rock steady
Alpheus met Roberto through Sergio from Heartical Sound in France. He set up a show in the Basque country and introduced him to Roberto and his band.

“Roberto and his group were going to back me at the concert and we had a good connection right there”, says Alpheus.

This was in 2006 and the first song they recorded was the groovy From Creation. Roberto wasn’t really into ska and rock steady at the time. He concentrated on roots from the late 70’s. Channel One style.

Alpheus on the other hand grew up on ska and rock steady. His mum used to play that kind of music and he says that he can easily find a melody to a ska and rock steady beat.

Worked with Coxsone Dodd
But From Creation is Alpheus’ third album. His first album Quality Time, put out in 1999, was a broader effort that included several reggae genres.

Alpheus says that he learned a lot from Quality Time and working with its producer Coxsone Dodd.

“It was better than fantastic to work with Coxsone Dodd. I was going through some sad times when I met him and it was the best thing that has ever happened to me musically”, he explains and continues:

“He showed me how to use my voice, arranging backing vocals, hooks and explaining stories.”

They met in New York through former Melodians singer Tony Brevett, who Alpheus had met in Florida.

“I lived in Brooklyn for some years and the Studio One studio was only about 30 minutes from home. I was there to learn and to write”, says Alpheus and continues:

“There is a different vibe in the U.S. In New York you have to do it in one take. You have to be prepared. It is much like Jamaica. In London it’s more laid back and not as much vibe as in the U.S. And in Europe everyone is happy to be in the studio with you. It’s exciting.”

From the foundation
And it seems that Roberto and Alpheus had an exciting time recording From Creation. It is recorded with an undeniable love for 60’s ska and rock steady and is based on both fresh and original riddims as well as relicks of some masterpieces from the 60’s.

You would expect riddims from Coxsone Dodd. Somewhat more surprising is that riddims from Phil Pratt get the Sánchez/Alpheus treatment.

“I am not much of a connoisseur and I didn’t know much of Phil Pratt’s music. It was minor key and I didn’t know of it. But it felt good and people told me that it was a big riddim [Dirty Dozen]. It’s nearly my favourite. It was lovely to write and lovely to sing to.”

New themes
On his previous albums love and relationships have been obvious themes. From Creation is more about upliftment and based on many different subjects.

“Love is a subject that concerns everyone. It’s everyday life. Love is relationships and something that everyone can relate to”, Alpheus explains and continues:

“The new album is broader and only four out of the 16 tunes are about love. Inside Out for example is about a person and that it’s the inside that sets the character.”

A FEW FAST ONES TO ALPHEUS

Favourite artist/group?
Don’t have one

Favourite label?
Studio One

Favourite album?
Really don’t know

Favourite tune?
Your Love – Larry Marshall

Favourite producer?
Clement Dodd

Favourite riddim?
Your Love riddim

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Alpheus takes it from the foundation

London born singer Alpheus has together with talented Spanish producer Roberto Sánchez managed to create one of the better albums I’ve heard in a while.

From Creation consists of sixteen tunes of pure ska and rocksteady magic recorded with live instruments. There are twelve vocal cuts, two instrumentals and two dub versions. Seven of the tracks are relicks of riddims from producer Coxsone Dodd and the more obscure – but just as great – Phil Pratt. The other five are written by the duo themselves.

And interestingly enough the tunes penned by the duo are just as good as the relicks. The haunting Far Away and the stomping We Are Strong could easily have been written in the 60’s.

Alpheus singing is inspired. By the natural way he rides the riddims it certainly seems like he has enjoyed the time in the studio. His powerful tenor is deep, soulful and sometimes dramatic, such as in the minor chord masterpiece From Creation, which is nicely complemented by an intense percussion driven dub version. It’s as if Roberto Sánchez had invited legendary Jamaican percussionist Bongo Herman to the session.

From Creation is obviously created by people who love music. It’s carefully made by the exact blend of heart, mind and soul. A must have in any good record collection.

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Somriga vibbar från Irie Ites

Redan i april kunde Reggaemani berätta att franska Irie Ites hade en ny rytm på gång. Och nu är datum bekräftat. Den 20 juni släpper fransoserna Party Time med sju somriga spår från kända namn som Leroy Sibbles, Sizzla och Glen Washington. Då är det 7” som gäller. Vill man ha cd eller legal nedladdning får man vänta till första september.

Party Time är, precis som titeln antyder, en relick på den klassiska 60-talsrytmen med samma namn. Då satt Coxsone Dodd i producentstolen. Även han jobbade med Leroy Sibbles, som sjöng in rytmens titellåt tillsammans med The Heptones kring 1968.

Irie Ites version ligger nära originalet. Basen är lite högre, men annars är 60-talskänslan intakt.

Ladda ner en kort mix av låtarna nedan som smarrig försmak:

Irie Ites Megamix Party Time

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Tio år sedan Dennis Brown dog

Dennis20BrownEn av mina absoluta favoritartister är Dennis Brown, även kallad The Crown Prince of Reggae. För tio år sedan – endast 52 år gammal – gick han hastigt bort i sviterna av en hjärtattack. En kollapsad lunga är den officiella dödsorsaken.

Dennis Brown var under 70-talet en av världens största reggaeartister – helt i klass med Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Jacob Miller, Jimmy Cliff och Ken Boothe.

Legendariska Studio One var platsen där han började sin karriär. Coxsone Dodd satt bakom spakarna på hans två första fullängdare No Man is an Island och If I Follow My Heart. Märkligt nog gjorde de inget större avtryck i musikhistorien, och Dennis Brown valde att gå vidare.

Och det visade sig vara ett lyckokast. De kommande åren spelade han in hits som Black Magic Woman, Westbound Train och Cassandra. Producenten som lyckades att lyfta Dennis Brown var Niney – som med sparsmakade produktioner och tungt sväng i moll nådde bra kreativ höjd.

Det stora genombrottet kom genom skivan Visions of Dennis Brown. Joe Gibbs var producent den här gången och tillsammans levererade de hits som Money in My Pocket och So Jah Say.

Dennis Brown var en otrolig talang, och det ledde till att han fick möjlighetfront att spela in material tillsammans med alla heta producenter. Det visade sig också att han själv kunde hantera producentrollen och skivan Joseph’s Coat of Many Colours var en stor framgång.

Under 80-talet fortsatte Dennis Brown att leverera, bland annat genom ett hyllat samarbete med Gregory Isaacs.

Hade Dennis Brown fortfarande varit vid liv, så är jag övertygad om att han skulle fortsatt att vara en kreativ och drivande kraft inom reggaen.

Ladda in den här Spotify-playlisten så får en snabb inblick i några av mina favoritlåtar.

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