Tag Archives: R&B

Soul Jazz portrays the birth of a sound on Studio One Jump-Up

unnamedThe 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.

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Jah Cure moves from riddim to rhythm

World-CryJah Cure’s sixth album World Cry was slated for release more than a year ago, and for some reason it was postponed several times. Now however it’s finally here, and it shows Jah Cure in a different light compared to his previous albums. Where The Universal Cure – his fifth album – was reggae influenced by contemporary R&B, it’s the other way around with World Cry. This set is mostly contemporary R&B and electronic dance music spiced with dancehall and reggae.

Those who wanted Jah Cure to go back to his early hard roots reggae sound will be disappointed, but I guess no one really thought World Cry would be full of commitment to Rastafarian ideals set to dread and eerie beats.

Jah Cure mostly sings passionate love songs and his voice is as usual intimate and heartfelt, but also a bit whiny and tiresome. The electric beats are bombastic and the arrangements are lush and the producers have gone all in on several tracks, for example the title track which has gentle strings, a melancholic piano and an army-styled snare drum. It could have been recorded by Coldplay and suits any football stadium around the world.

The reggae tracks include a version of The Gladiators Mix Up and a cut of House of Riddim’s brilliant up-tempo riddim The Sensimillionaire. Best is however the heavyweight hip-hop and dubstep-tinged Like I See It with Mavado (the non-album version also features U.S. rapper Rick Ross). The mariachi trumpets in the chorus seem a little out of place though.

There was a time when Jah Cure was seen as one of the leading lights in roots reggae. But that was then, and this is now, and now he has travelled down the same path as Sean Paul. Hopefully this direction will be successful in the mainstream charts.

World Cry is now available on digital platforms. A CD version will be available in January.

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