UK’s Fashion Records started in 1980 and a studio was soon built to record Jamaican artists passing through London at the time. Several smash hits and lesser known gems were recorded at the A-Class studio and released via the label. Some of these 80s and 90s cuts from the Fashion vaults have now been given new sonic life thanks to a number of noted contemporary producers.
Inna Nice Up! Fashion serves up explosive and thrilling remixes by rave-revivalists, dancehall industrialists, digital dub machinists and modern reggae architects, including Dub Pistols, Jstar, Wrongtom, Mr. Benn and Jahtari.
The compilation has the DNA of reggae and dancehall and collects a little bit of everything for bass addicts around the world. Fashion Records has a long and rich history reaching far beyond reggae and this album will hopefully introduce the label to a new audience.
UK’s Fashion records had such a diverse output when the label was alive and kicking. Dancehall, roots and lovers rock as well as jungle and hip-hop mixes are for example presented on the second volume of Fashion in Fine Style – Significant Hits. A majority of the 20 tracks still sounds excellent, even though some of the plastic synths are very dated and downright painful at times.
Lovers rock was one of the label’s strongest cards and as with volume one, this genre is well-represented with a number of tracks from crooning and honeyed singers like Barry Boom and Michael Gordon. Included are also a few dancehall-tinged lovers cuts from, for example, General Levy and Philip Leo & C.J. Lewis.
When I wrote about the first volume about a year ago I called for Nereus Joseph’s huge 1985 hit Sensi Crisis and a tune or two from producer and melodica player Glen Brown. And my call was heard. The skanking Sensi Crisis is now included, so is Glen Brown’s swirling and echoing Detrimental Music.
There is a good amount of significant hits on this album. And the two volumes together collect a healthy 40 tunes of essential UK musical history. You get all the hits and more. Much more.
Fashion – one of the finest British reggae labels of all time – is currently undergoing a well-deserved reissue program courtesy of music distributor Believe Digital.
On March 10 the first ten albums from the catalogue were released on digital platforms, and each month after further albums will be put out from this exquisite catalogue. To accompany the re-releases a best of compilation has also been dropped.
Fashion Records Significant Hits Volume One collects 20 tunes spanning from the initial release in 1980 to some of the last tunes issued in the late 90’s.
If you aren’t acquainted with Fashion Records already, you need to know it is one of the most successful UK-based reggae labels dropping albums and tunes from the best local talents and Jamaican visitors. It was the brainchild of reggae devotees John MacGillivray and Chris Lane, and was essentially a spin-off from John MacGillivray’s Dub Vendor record store in London.
The releases were produced in their own A-Class recording studio along with musicians such as Mafia & Fluxy.
The first Fashion release was Dee Sharp’s Let’s Dub it Up – of course included on the album – and it hit number one in the UK reggae charts in the summer of 1980. Following this success the label issued many types of reggae ranging from dancehall scorchers and hard roots to sweet skanking lovers and more or less straight pop music.
Significant Hits Volume One is a great introduction the Fashion as it encompasses a broad variation of styles, both vocally and musically.
Some of the finest moments include Tippa Irie & Janet Lee-Davis’ Baby I’ve Been Missing You on a reworked Queen Majesty riddim, Bunny General’s tongue twister Full Up A Class, the echo-laid tough roots tune Herbal Dub from Dub Organiser and Starkey Banton’s amusing jungle dis Jungle Bungle.
The compilation would have been even greater if Nereus Joseph’s Sensi Crisis would have been included instead of Top Cat’s jungle tune Request the Style (Project 1 Remix). I also miss one of Glen Brown’s compelling melodica tunes.
No big faults, but with these tunes an already strong set would have been even better.