Tag Archives: Reissues

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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Classic Augustus Pablo album reissued

untitledReggae powerhouse VP Records’ subsidiary Greensleeves has started the year with a number of solid reissues. First off was three rare Glen Brown compilations from the late 80s and now the label has put out Horace Andy’s hard to find In the Light and In the Light Dub along with Augustus Pablo’s classic Original Rockers.

I have noted some critique on these releases. Some say it’s easy money dropping reissues and that’s why VP is doing it. It’s probably cheaper to release an already recorded album, but for me that’s not the case. I think VP is doing the right thing reissuing solid and hard to find – sometimes downright impossible – albums and singles. These reissues – at least the CD and digital versions – also come with added tracks. Sure, they have reissued before, but there are new generations out there, generations that haven’t heard these great sets.

Augustus Pablo’s Original Rockers album was originally released in 1979. It’s a collection of severely rare singles from his early days, circa 1972-1975, and showcases three creative masterminds – Augustus Pablo himself along with legendary mixing engineers King Tubby and Prince Jammy, the former gracing a few cuts with his dub wizardry.

Original Rockers is extraordinarily innovative and is a mostly instrumental set. This expanded version comes however with vocal cuts from Dillinger, Big Youth, Leroy Sibbles, The Heptones and Bongo Pat.

Augustus Pablo’s dreamy melodica floats around in the mixes and standout cuts include Up Wareika Hill, the militant Jah Dread, the mellow Thunder Clap and Park Lane Special, a superb version of Hugh Mundell’s classic Africa Must Be Free By 1983.

Original Rockers is the essence of Augustus Pablo and the album now gets a well-deserved reissue.

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Tough rhythms on Dub in Blood

Dub in BloodBand names in reggae history. That could easily be an interesting chapter in any thorough book about the reggae scene. The Aggrovators, The Revolutionaries, Roots Radics, Soul Syndicate are a handful of creative ones.

You also have Skin, Flesh & Bones. And their scarce Dub in Blood aka The Best Dub Album in the World from the mid-70s is the first release of 2016 on Pressure Sounds. It’s produced by Phil Pratt, recorded at Channel One and mixed by Ernest Hoo Kim and Ossie Hibbert and collects dub to vocal cuts by Al Campbell and Earl George aka George Faith.

It comes with the original ten cuts adding two bonus tracks to the LP version and another two on the CD edition. One of the bonus cuts is a dub of Al Campbell’s eerie Natty Band Wagon recorded at Lee Perry’s Black Ark studio.

Dub in Blood is naked and not loaded with studio wizardry. The tough riddims speak for themselves. And it’s definitely a solid and strong album, but naming it The Best Dub Album in the World might be exaggerating it a bit.

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Rare dub album part of crucial Burning Spear reissue

R-1350951-1211931142_jpegIn the 70s Bob Marley & The wailers took the world by storm and he rose to global stardom. Bob Marley became synonymous with reggae and no other reggae singer or reggae band have even come close to what he has achieved.

But back in the days when Bob Marley was on his way to conquering the charts, labels were keen to find other acts to follow in his footsteps. Several tried, but no one managed. One who tried was Burning Spear, who – just like Bob Marley – was signed to Island Records.

Burning Spear started his career in the 60s; just as Bob Marley did. But his music was darker and rootsier from the beginning and Coxsone Dodd – who was the first to record Burning Spear – was at first reluctant to release the recordings due to its controversial messages and dread approach. Somehow, this draw the attention of Island Records who thought his music was for the masses.

Well, Burning Spear has recorded plenty of classics, but I think it’s fair to say that most of his albums and singles are far from commercial. His excellent 70s output for Island is slow, dark and dense and often lack hooks. His messages were regarded as revolutionary and Burning Spear often calls for repatriation and black consciousness set to a backdrop of smattering percussion, devastating bass lines and throbbing drums.

But Island believed in him and obviously still does since they only last year reissued his album Social Living, or Marcus Children as it was titled in Jamaica. This superb album is now expanded with another nine tracks when adding its rare dub counterpart Living Dub. And it’s the original version from 1978 and not the mixes from the early 90s that were put out on Heartbeat.

Social Living was Burning Spear’s second self-produced album and followed two albums each with Coxsone Dodd and Jack Ruby. It’s a coherent and accomplished set – and even more so with the added dubs – and presents Burning Spear at the peak of his career. It’s bold and edgy with plenty of spiritualty and references to the messages proclaimed by Marcus Garvey.

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The roots of roots music on Tales of Mozambique

210395Just as many other music genres reggae has several sides; it can be insanely catchy and commercial on one hand, but also hard to grasp and uncommercial. Nyabinghi is often the latter and UK’s Soul Jazz Records has now reissued a landmark album in that genre.

Count Ossie & The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari’s Tales of Mozambique – originally put out in 1975 – is a fascinating and spiritual journey and the follow-up to the outfit’s ground-breaking debut set Grounation.

The group was formed in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1970 and was a union of two existing ensembles – Count Ossie’s crew of drummers and horns man Cedric “Im” Brooks’ Mystics band. Both bandleaders are central characters in the development of Rastafarian roots music, especially Count Ossie who has become a mythical and iconic figure since his untimely death in 1976.

Tales of Mozambique is deeply rooted in rituals of traditional African drumming. It’s avant-garde, powerful and continues where Grounation left off. It has the same radical combination of nyabinghi rhythms, free jazz and chanting. It celebrates Afro-centric identity and traditions and tells the history of Mozambique and how it became colonized and its people enslaved.

The arrangements are loose with repetitive drumming and bass lines along with jazzy horns, reasoning and chanted group vocals.

The musicians behind this album had lots of integrity and courage because it’s experimental and revolutionary with a unique sound. Tales of Mozambique is a slice of hypnotic music history.

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Rare Culture album part of massive compilation

51hCDfKh9mL__SY300_Jamaican harmony trio Culture – with their uncompromising and charismatic lead sing Joseph Hill – was the epitome of dread in the mid-70s with Rastafarian themes and apocalyptic warnings of the world’s imminent demise. Their debut album was the acclaimed and prophetic Two Sevens Clash. That set along with its follow-up Baldhead Bridge were recorded with Joe Gibbs and his sidekick Errol T behind the mixing desk.

Culture soon moved on and initiated a successful and fruitful collaboration with Sonia Pottinger, one of Jamaica’s few female producers. Together they provided Richard Branson’s Virgin Front Line imprint with three super-solid roots classics – Harder Than the Rest, Cumbolo and International Herb. A fourth album was also recorded, but never released at the time.

That fourth album – unofficially at the time titled Black Rose – is now part of a massive Culture two disc reissue – Culture on the Front Line, which collects Culture’s complete recordings for Virgin. The marketing of this album is however not entirely true though, since it’s stated that Black Rose is previously unreleased. Thing is that seven of its eight tracks appeared on Heartbeat’s Trod On compilation released in 1993.

Culture on the Front Line collects a whopping 48 tracks and Black Rose is just as great as the other three sets recorded together with Sonia Pottinger. Culture is as revolutionary and radical as always. They warn against Babylonian living and cry for social change.

Culture has always relied quite a lot on the backing vocals courtesy of Albert “Ralph” Walker and Kenneth Dayes. Their chorale singing and striking harmonies are crucial to the songs. But they also add spirituality and a rural flavor and nearly all songs sound like they could have been performed in front of a bonfire late at night.

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Unreleased dub versions on Third World reissue

00123be2_mediumJamaican roots reggae band Third World dropped their self-titled landmark debut album in 1976. This astonishing set hasn’t been reissued for 23 years, but it’s now readily available again.

But this new version is more than just the original album since it adds another eight tracks, including four unreleased dub versions, two alternate cuts and two vocals, of which one is their debut single Don’t Cry On the Railroad Track, previously only available on the original 7” from 1975.

Third World’s debut fuses roots reggae with funk, soul, gospel and rock. They have often been labelled as sell-outs and too commercial. Sure, they came to be something of a crossover act because of their monster version of the O’Jays’ Now That We’ve Found Love, which had a catchy disco groove.

But their debut is far from polished and slick. Even more so with the gritty and dread bonus cuts. And on this album they successfully cover rootsy staples like The Abyssinians’ beautiful Satta A Masagana and Burning Spear’s dry Slavery Days. Pretty far from disco decadence.

The album is infectious, but it’s not necessarily a crowd-pleaser. Third World is jam-oriented and several songs are five or six minutes long with many solos and long intros. The songs have a nice depth and the arrangements are rich and clever.

The gems on this set – apart from the original cuts – are the uplifting and soulful Rainbow Love, also recorded by BB Seaton in the 70s, and the dub versions, especially the eerie versions of Satta A Masagana, Sun Don’t Shine and Freedom Song. They are absolutely crucial and showcases the ground-shaking bass lines when deconstructing the intriguing rhythms.

After this album Third World went on to become a successful reggae band touring the globe with singer Bunny Rugs, who replaced original vocalist Milton Hamilton. Their two follow-up albums are slightly more commercial, especially Journey to Addis, but also well-worth investigating.

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