UK reissue label Pressure Sounds has started the year in an old school vintage reggae style. First it was a compilation with early reggae scorchers produced by Lee Perry. Now the label has reissued a second collection of tunes from Blondel Keith Calneck, aka Ken Lack, and his group of labels, including Shock, Jontom and Caltone.
Listen to the Music: Caltone’s Jamaican 45’s 1966-69 collects 21 tunes covering frantic ska, up-tempo early reggae and elegant, classy rocksteady. A few straight forward R&B and Sam Cooke influenced tunes from The Uniques are also included.
Ken Lack was a business man with a keen interest in music and is not one of the more well-known producers in the history of reggae music, but thanks to the Pressure Sounds compilation Safe Travel – released in 2005 – he has received some very well-deserved attention.
Bunny Lee and Phil Pratt handled most of the hands-on production on his recordings with input from Trinibagoan guitarist Lynn Taitt, saxophonist Tommy McCook and trumpeter Johnny Moore.
One of the better known singles from the Ken Lack camp is The Heptones’ Gunmen Coming to Town, a tune that borrows its melody from the William Tell Overture.
Ken Lack worked extensively with Tommy McCook, and his saxophone is present on many of the tunes. And the horn arrangements are classy and tasteful throughout the compilation.
Standouts among the vocals cuts are The Claredonians’ – with the extraordinary talent of Peter Austin taking lead – I’m Sorry, Devon & The Tartans’ Making Love and Alva Lewis & Lynn Taitt’s Return Home. The harmonies are excellent and so are the musicianship with outstanding lead guitar and shuffling organ work.
Listen to the Music is currently available on CD, double LP and digital download and includes excellent liner notes courtesy of Pressure Sounds’ founder and director Pete Holdsworth.