In the history of reggae music it’s often referred to labels and producers in the so-called golden era, i.e. the 70’s and Bob Marley’s heydays. Lee Perry at Black Ark, Coxsone Dodd at Studio One and Duke Reid at Tresure Isle regularly pops up.
But there are of course many, many other key labels and producers, and one of the most important ones in recent years is Frenchie, who operates and owns Maximum Sound and its subsidiaries Calabash, Pull Up My Selecta! and the most recent addition Maximum Sound Bwoy Killers.
He has run Maximum Sound for 20 years and has put out a truckload of hard-bouncing dancehall and spiritual and relentless roots and culture, including Junior Kelly’s Tough Life, Fantan Mojah’s Stronger and Sean Paul’s Back Off. He was also involved in the creation of the world famous Diwali riddim and served as executive producer for Mr. Vegas’ breakthrough album Heads High.
Since it’s Maximum Sound’s 20th anniversary this year I had a chat with Frenchie about his career, the music industry and a broken fridge. Check the full story over at United Reggae and be sure to keep an eye out for an anniversary compilation dropping on September 16.
There has been some rumors circulating that independent French reissue label Makasound has gone bankrupt. This news is sadly now official on the label’s web site, and co-founder and owner Nicholas Maslowski has also confirmed this in an interview with newspaper Jamaican Observer.
Makasound was founded in 2002 by Nicholas Maslowski and Romain Germa and has put out 28 reissues in eight years. According to Jamaican Observer, Makasound had an accumulated debt amounting to millions of Jamaican dollars.
The reason behind the bankruptcy is according to Nicholas Maslowski illegal downloading, and he notes that “French people are the biggest illegal downloaders in the world”.
Nicholas Maslowski also criticizes contemporary reggae and the Jamaican music industry as well as blaming the Jamaican government for not doing enough for keeping roots reggae alive.
This is not the first reggae reissue label filing for bankruptcy. In 2007 the widely known Blood and Fire label closed its operations and in 2009 Motion Records did the same thing.
There are however some reissue labels left. Dug Out just put out the Tempo Explosion compilation and the single Sheriff John Brown by the late Sugar Minott. Pressure Sounds will release a new Lee “Scratch” Perry compilation in April and VP Records subsidiary 17 North Parade is putting out a regular stream of great reissues. There are also labels such as Soul Jazz, Rock A Shacka, Digikiller Records, Jamaican Recordings and Kingston Sounds.
Hopefully all of these will be able to remain their operations intact.
However, the world won’t be the same without a label that has put out gems such as Black Roots’ In Session, Knowledge’s Straight Outta Trenchtown, Rastafarians’ Orthodox, Leroy Brown’s Color Barrier and the various artists compilation Rub a Dub Soldiers.