Tag Archives: Reissues

Freddie McKay’s Picture on the Wall reissued – comes with 12 bonus cuts

unnamedThere are plenty of talents in Jamaican reggae that have never really been recognized beyond reggae collectors and aficionados. One of the great singers that is too underappreciated is the soulful and plaintive Freddie McKay, who started his recording career for Prince Buster in the 60s.

He later moved on to work with a plethora of Jamaican producers, including Clement Dodd, who recorded his debut album Picture on the Wall, which has now been reissued by Studio One Records and Yep Roc Records.

Clement Dodd caught interest in Freddie McKay during a recording session with the Soul Defenders, an outfit that had Freddie McKay as one of their lead vocalists (Culture’s Joseph Hill was another of their lead singers). And many of the songs featured on the majestic Picture on the Wall were part of Soul Defenders’ stage show. The versions on the album have, however, new arrangements with horns and different backing vocals.

The original album is a sheer masterpiece. And this new version is even better since it adds another 12 (!) tracks, including rarities, instrumentals and extended versions. The real beauties – apart from original album cuts like So Long Forever and Can’t Go On – are the ridiculously rare single Drunken Sailor and the extended version of Love is a Treasure. This album is worth getting just because of those two cuts.

Freddie McKay has never got the recognition he deserves. He is for sure one of Jamaica’s finest singers of all time. Listen to this set and you’ll understand why.

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Classics and obscurities on Studio One Rocksteady 2

unnamedWith a sturdy 19 tracks there’s not a dull moment on Soul Jazz’ second installment of Studio One Rocksteady, although some of the tracks have previously been featured on countless of other albums. I’m talking about well-known songs like Alton Ellis’ I’m Still In Love With You, Slim Smit’s Born To Love and The Heptones’ I Shall Be Released.

The title is however slightly misleading since the album draws both Studio One’s deep rocksteady and early reggae vaults. And it offers a sweet mix of staples and obscure singles. Best of the bunch is The Termites’ pulsating Rub Up Push Up, Carlton & The Shoes’ melancholic Never Let Go, Cannon & The Soul Vendors’ bouncy instrumental Bad Treatment and The Actions’ up-tempo Giddy Up.

Studio One Rocksteady 2 includes a number of cuts that helped to shape reggae to an international phenomenon.

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Top 12 reggae album reissues in 2016

It has been a fantastic year for reggae album reissues. Killer, and sometimes unbelievably rare, albums have seen the day of light thanks to labels like Pressure Sounds, 17 North Parade and Soul Jazz Records.

But the biggest label in reissues circles is nowadays Japan’s Dub Store Records. Over the past 12 months they have put out a broad variety of albums ranging from digital reggae and vintage rocksteady to meditative and spiritual nyabinghi. I can only hope that Dub Store Records will continue in 2017 with a hefty release schedule.
reissues

The list below is presented in alphabetical order and if you’re curious about the albums – check out this Spotify playlist with nine of the albums. Enjoy!

Artist – album title
Bunny Wailer – Solomonic Singles Vol 1 & 2
Bunny Wailer has always been quietly ferocious with apocalyptic messages and a mystical and transcendental sonic landscape. And many of these marvelous songs – classics, long lost gems, dub versions and instrumentals – are now finally readily available.

Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari – Grounation
A psychedelic, colorful and ethereal joyride and a milestone in the development of reggae music.

Derrick Harriott – Rock Steady Party
This is rock steady at its very finest. Close harmonies, sweet melodies and smooth grooves.

Errol Brown – Orthodox Dub
Tough roots scorchers dubbed with brimstone and fire mashing down the walls of Babylon.

Horace Andy & Winston Jarrett – Kingston Rock
Killer cuts from both Horace Andy and Winston Jarrett; two singers with radically different voices. Horace Andy is soft, while Winston Jarrett has a rougher and more rural style complemented by beautiful harmonies.

Lloyd Charmers – The Best of Lloyd Charmers
This crucial anthology is painfully long overdue and showcases a ingenious producer as well as an array of Jamaica’s finest artists.

Prince Alla – The Best of Prince Alla
Prince Alla has never been quite as prolific as many of his peers, but many of his recordings have proven to be landmarks in the history of reggae music. And some of these are included on this lethal set.

Yabby You – Beware
A key dub album that still sounds powerful.

Various – First Class Rocksteady
The title says it all.

Various – Money Maker
Collects primarily instrumentals played by Studio One in-house bands The Sound Dimension, The Soul Brothers and The Soul Vendors joined by Im & Dave, Ernest Ranglin, Jackie Mittoo, Lloyd Williams and The Boss himself, Clement “Coxsone” Dodd.

Various – Studio One Showcase
Brings together a mighty fine selection of tracks from the 70s and early 80s.

Various – Tape Rolling!
This is a fascinating album with lots of excitement – check Big Joe’s excellent take on Count Prince Miller’s Mule Train – and creativity – listen to I Roy’s mystic chant on Noisy Place, a version of The Paragons’ Man Next Door.

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Errol Brown’s killer Orthodox Dub reissued

a3243023335_16There are loads rare dub albums out there. Many were originally only pressed in a just a few hundred copies. One of those is Errol Brown’s Orthodox Dub. A set recorded and mixed at Treasure Isle studios in Kingston and released only in the U.S in the mid to late 70s.

This obscure and killer set has now been reissued by Dub Store Records. Errol Brown was resident engineer at Treasure Isle at the time when BB Seaton recorded the original vocal versions and then Errol Brown dubbed them with perfection.

This is not dubs of smooth rocksteady. These are tough roots scorchers dubbed with brimstone and fire mashing down the walls of Babylon. Not what one would expect from Errol Brown at Treasure Isle.

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Beware – a Yabby You dub album has been reissued

unnamedYabby You’s dub album Beware has been unavailable for about 25 years, but has thanks to Pressure Sounds been restored and reissued complete with no less than six superb bonus cuts.

Beware – which collects version sides from various singles – was originally released in 1978 and reissued in 1981 and 1991. The new version is greatly expanded with two fascinating and previously unreleased dubplate cuts, one is the eerie Conquering Lion, which is even more dread in its dubplate disguise, and the other one God is Watching You. This version is haunting with deep harmonies and nyabinghi drumming.

Other stellar cuts include Tommy McCook’s beautiful Sensimena and the powerful Peace with its smattering percussion, relentless bass line and bright saxophone.

King Tubby and Prince Jammy handled mixing duties and as expected it’s clever and innovative spotlighting the bass and drums, yet highlighting other prominent instruments, such as horns and keys.

A key dub album that still sounds powerful.

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Grounation is a fascinating musical experience

unnamedIn January this year Soul Jazz reissued Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari’s second album Tales of Mozambique and a few months later the same label reissued Count Ossie’s Man From Higher Heights.

Since then I’ve been eagerly waiting for the reissue of Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari’s ground-breaking debut album Grounation. And last week it was finally reissued. But not by SoulJazz, but by Japan’s Dubstore.

Grounation is now finally available again in its glorious entirety – a three set vinyl or a double disc CD collecting 15 tracks of ambitious and mystic nyabinghi. To describe this album – originally released in 1973 – as uncommercial would be a serious understatement. Grounation comes with a great deal of integrity and is a powerful philosophic experience. Almost transcendent to some degree.

The album was recorded through three different recording sessions where Cedric “Im” Brooks and his Mystic Revelation of Rastafari met with Count Ossie’s Rastafarian Drummers at a grounation, which is a sort of emotionally charged musical gathering as well as a spiritual experience. And to put this gathering on wax is a musical sensation.

But this set is not for the faint-hearted with its repetitive and meditative drumming complemented by a creative jazz-based horn section led by musical director and saxophonist Cedric “Im” Brooks along with Rasta chants and orations courtesy of Brother Samuel Clayton. Brother Samuel Clayton represents an early form of dub poetry or spoken work as showcased on cuts like Narration and Narration Continued.

With Grounation you never know what to expect. Every song is like a Kinder Egg. On one hand you have spoken tracks with no instrumentation, like Poem 1 and Poem 2. Then you have a relatively traditional song like Four Hundred Years with a melancholic melody reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair. Or the title track which is spread across two cuts clocking in at a total of 30 (!) minutes.

Grounation is a psychedelic, colorful and ethereal joyride and a milestone in the development of reggae music.

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Precious gems on Money Maker

MoneyMaker_COVER (1)The latest release in the new Studio One reissue program is a rare album from the early 70s. Money Maker was pressed in scarce quantities at the time and wasn’t reissued until 2002 when a limited edition – with bonus cuts – appeared. Both fetch large sums these days.

This new reissue is the original album with ten tracks and comes with the original “cash” artwork as well. It collects primarily instrumentals played by Studio One in-house bands The Sound Dimension, The Soul Brothers and The Soul Vendors joined by Im & Dave, Ernest Ranglin, Jackie Mittoo, Lloyd Williams and The Boss himself, Clement “Coxsone” Dodd.

Many riddims are familiar from vocal cuts by the likes of The Wailing Souls and The Heptones and have been versioned countless of times. The versions on Money Marker are stunning. Just listen to the ultra-funky Mixing with Jackie Mittoo putting his organ on fire or the Im & Dave’s marvellous version of John Holt’s A Love I Can Feel.

It has been remastered from the original session tapes and the sound quality is way beyond expectation. Unfortunately it’s a North America release only.

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Roll the tape – Bunny Lee & Friends rocking and swinging

unnamedAbout a year ago reissue giants Pressure Sounds issued a killer Bunny Lee compilation titled Next Cut!. Now comes another one collecting more of the same, i.e. unreleased versions, alternate takes and hard to find gems from the Bunny Lee vaults.

Tape Rolling! is however focused on an earlier part of Bunny Lee’s insanely long career. The collection spans 1971-1974, a period when Bunny Lee worked with the hottest musicians on the island and managed to put out loads of hits, including Eric Donaldson’s festival winner Cherry Oh Baby and John Holt’s Stick By Me, both tracks included, but not the original versions.

This is a fascinating album with lots of excitement – check Big Joe’s excellent take on Count Prince Miller’s Mule Train – and creativity – listen to I Roy’s mystic chant on Noisy Place, a version of The Paragons’ Man Next Door.

The tracks collected were recorded at a time when smaller and up and coming producers were taking over from the more established ones, like Clement “Coxsone” Dodd and Duke Reid. These producers were not afraid of experimenting and had lots of imagination. No musical boundaries, just great music.

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Derrick Harriott’s epic rock steady party

MI0004046584When I started listening to reggae some 20 years ago my first love was rock steady and one of the many holy grails I wanted in my music collection was Derrick Harriott’s Rock Steady Party, a twelve track various artists compilation from around 1967. Unfortunately a copy has always been way too expensive for my finances. Up until now.

Because the stars over at Dub Store Records has reissued this sublime collection of hits in its original version. It’s a faultless set and every cut is a certified gem. Derrick Harriott has produced the album and also sings on five tracks, including the beautiful and melancholic album opener Walk the Streets.

This is rock steady at its very finest. Close harmonies, sweet melodies and smooth grooves. It’s all there and expertly crafted by legendary musicians like ace guitarist Lynn Taitt and trumpet maestro Bobby Ellis.

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Rare Studio One albums scheduled for reissue

utre_WailingWailersCOVER_1Reissues of albums and singles from legendary Jamaican studio and label Studio One have surfaced over the years on labels such as Soul Jazz and Heartbeat. And now another label joins the reissue game.

Many of the label’s essential albums have been out of print for decades and now Studio One, in conjunction with the Yep Roc Music Group, will re-release titles from its catalog in their original formats, with track listings and album artwork intact, as well as new additions to the catalogue.

“We are excited for the opportunity to re-launch the Studio One brand and thankful for the trust that Carol Dodd and her team has afforded us. Through reissues of classic titles as well as new collections, we want our releases to reflect the history and legacy of Jamaica’s most iconic label. Here’s to the next 60 years!,” says Billy Maupin, GM of Yep Roc Music Group, in a press release.

The release schedule kicks off on May 27 with The Wailers’ debut album The Wailing Wailers. The reissue includes the original 1965 Jamaican masters and cover. The original LP version of the album has been out of print for decades, fetching huge sums from collectors, and the album has never before been released on CD with the original track listing and artwork.

The next release is a reissue of a compilation titled Money Maker, which has also been remastered from the original session tapes. It features a selection of cuts from acts like The Heptones, Burning Spear, The Wailing Souls and John Holt. The album is set for release on August 5.

Future 2016 releases from Studio One include the Studio One Radio Show taken from two 1970’s shows featuring the legendary host Winston “The Whip” Williams and a Don Drummond collection compiled by Clement Dodd himself before his passing in 2004 along with a box set to celebrate the label’s over 60 years of existence.

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