The latest Studio One compilation from UK reissue giant Soul Jazz adds something new to their huge catalogue. It’s the first time they issue a compilation focusing on the bona-fide roots of reggae and the earliest sounds coming from Studio One and Clement “Coxsone” Dodd.
Studio One Jump-Up – The Birth of a Sound: Jump-Up Jamaican R&B, Jazz and Early Ska serves up a total of 20 tunes in many styles; from shuffle and R&B to ska and jazz.
This compilation starts from the beginning in the formative era. In the mid to late 50s Jamaicans were exposed to lots of U.S. R&B and producers like Clement Dodd merged these shuffling sounds with his own musical strains; calypso from Trinidad & Tobago and mento, a form of Jamaican folk music.
On this album you’ll find the roots of Studio One and a early R&B aficionado will probably recognize influences from aces like Louis Jordan and Fats Domino. But included is also cuts that adds something new, that adds something fresh to the rocking sounds. Count Ossie’s Another Moses is such a track, Don Drummond & Roland Alphonso’s Heaven and Earth is another. These two cuts are haunting and conscious and provided the foundation for what was about to come many years later – roots reggae.
This compilation is however mostly about party-starters and frenetic tempos. If you have a bad heart you might want to skip the joyous ska excitement of Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Go Jimmy Go or the volcanic horns on Roland Alphonso’s Bongo Tango.
Studio One Jump-Up portrays a side of reggae that is sometimes overlooked – even though labels like Fantastic Voyage and Sunrise Records have done their fair share of reissues in this genre. “You have to know the past to understand the present” is an expression coined by U.S. astronomer Carl Sagan and it’s something Jamaican musicians might want to focus on now that they aim to reclaim global dominance in reggae.
Eccentric Jamaican music legend Lee “Scratch” Perry is a little bit of everywhere these days and works in several genres. In May he was part of the vintage sounding Back on the Controls album and he has also worked with more future-sounding acts like The Orb, Dubblestandart and EasyRiddimMaker.
Now he is involved in another project with a vintage sound. But it’s not swirling roots like Back on the Controls, almost the opposite actually. Shake It! is Dutch band The Upsessions’ fourth album, and it features 14 tracks in the ska, rocksteady and early reggae vein, largely inspired by Desmond Dekker, The Maytals and The Skatalites.
They teamed up with Lee Perry while on tour in Germany and he has injected his distinctive half-sung/half-spoken style to several of the songs. It certainly adds a rough flavour to the otherwise smooth, yet often up-tempo, material.
Just as many albums in this vein Shake It! blends vocal cuts with instrumentals. And the set ranges from the calypso-tinged and risqué The Big Bamboo Treat and Punani Strike via the funky 100.000.000 Tons of Reggae and Funky Lumpini to skanking dance floor crashers like the title track and Hold Your Wining.
Sharp and infectious for your dancing feet.
Publisher, music writer and musician Ray Hurford has put out a new book in the always interesting The Small Axe Guide To series.
The Small Axe Guide to Reggae 68-70 digs deep in early reggae, sometimes labeled skinhead reggae, since it was the skinheads who took the music to their hearts outside the West Indian communities in the late 60’s.
The book is 200 pages and contains over 100 profiles of all the people who were big in the reggae era during this period – Desmond Dekker, Derrick Morgan and Laurel Aitken to name a few. Included are singers, groups, bands, musicians, deejays and, of course, producers.
The Small Axe Guide to Reggae 68-70 is somewhat reminiscent of the nowadays deleted Boss Sounds by Marc Griffiths. But Boss Sounds concentrated on singles and The Small Axe Guide to Reggae 68-70 is instead focusing on albums.
If you like guides and labels such as Trojan and Pama then you should definitely check out this book.
Available through Small Axe People for £7.50 in the UK or £9.50 to Europe and rest of the world.