Tag Archives: Soul Jazz

Ska galore

foundationska_cover_sm_2The Skatalites brought the sound of Jamaica to the world. From the early 60s up until the mid-60s this outfit – with legendary instrumentalists such as Don Drummond, Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso, Jackie Mittoo and Ernest Ranglin – defined ska and the new and exciting sound of young Jamaica.

The Skatalites played on thousands of recordings during their relatively short-lived period. They recorded as a group, as individual musicians and as backing band for a variety of singers, including The Wailers, Delroy Wilson, Ken Boothe, Alton Ellis and a truckload of others.dondrummond_doncosmic_cover_sm_2

Many of their own recordings have been well-compiled over the years, but they have recently been highlighted once again with three new compilations – one coming from UK’s Soul Jazz and two coming from Studio One Records and Yep Roc Records in the U.S.

These albums – Foundation Ska, Don Cosmic and Independence Ska and The Far East Sound – Original Ska Sounds From The Skatalites 1963-65 – collect mostly instrumentals released as a collective or as individual performers.

unnamedThese three albums bring together aspects of jazz, latin, R&B and to some extent nyabinghi. It’s intense with a heavy dose of energy and complexity. Check classic such as Guns of Navarone, El Pussy Cat Ska and Simmer Down with The Wailers.

This is a history lesson and showcases The Skatalites unrivaled position in the history of reggae music.

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Infectious discofied reggae on reissued Soul Jazz compilation

unnamedAlmost 15 years ago reissue giants Soul Jazz released the excellent compilation Hustle! Reggae Disco. It’s one of the label’s most popular compilations and has been unavailable for many years.

This ground-breaking compilation has now been reissued with no less than five seminal extra cuts. It now features 13 hip-shaking killer reggae versions of funk and soul classics done in disco style. This set certainly showcases the link between dancefloors in Kingston, New York and London.

This hybrid beast of a compilation comes with dub-styled versions of classics like Anita Ward’s Ring My Bell, Risco Connection’s Ain’t No Stopping Us Now and Sugarhill Gang’s Rappers Delight.

So put on your best dress, your dancing shoes and let your mind go. Because this album is a mind-blowing visit to Studio 54 in Trenchtown.

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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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A great relaunch from Studio One and Soul Jazz

Many artists, producers and labels in the world of reggae music aspire on being the founder of the genre. Who invented reggae and where it was invented could probably be a topic for near endless discussions.

One man who would certainly pop up in such a conversation is Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, producer and founder of Studio One, a business that covered almost every aspect of the music industry – soundsystem, pressing plant, auditioning, recording studio, publishing house and more.

Under his tutelage several singers and groups rose to international prominence and virtually every artist in Jamaica wanted to work for Coxsone in the 60’s and 70’s.

Among the artists that recorded at Studio One you’ll find some of the household names in reggae music. You name them and they’ve probably cut at least one track 13 Brentford Road in Kingston 5, where the studio was located until it closed down in 1979, when Coxsone got tired of the violence and moved to Brooklyn, New York.

Some of the most acclaimed artists that recorded at Studio One is featured on the compilation The Legendary Studio One Records: Original Classic Recordings 1963-80 out now on Soul Jazz Records. It has been three years since the latest Studio One issue from Soul Jazz. And it is more than welcome.

It contains a total of 18 tracks that covers ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub and dancehall and is something a sampler with well-known and lesser known artists and tunes.

Included are The Skatalites scorching Ball of Fire and Michigan & Smiley’s pulsating Rub a Dub Style in a brilliant extended version complete with sound effects.

Other highlights include Prince Jazzbo’s haunting Rock Fort Dub and guitar virtuoso Ernest Ranglin’s beautiful instrumental Ranglin Doodlin’.

This compilation is a great relaunch of a very fruitful collaboration and according to the press release there are more to come in the end of the year. Bring it on!

The Legendary Studio One Records is available on CD, 2xLP and digital download.

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Bring on the Mysteron Killer Sounds

Soul Jazz – one of UK’s finest labels – continues their odyssey in dubstep with the beautifully packed compilation Invasion of the Mysteron Killer Sounds. It contains 35 old and new tracks cherry-picked by dubstep pioneer Kevin “The Bug” Martin and Soul Jazz’ founder Stuart Baker. Together they present the past, present and future of digital reggae.

The two compilers are treated one disc each and you can follow the journey from early Jamaican dub experimentalists such as King Tubby, Scientist and King Jammy to the contemporary dubstep sounds of Fira and Diplo.

Dubstep emerged out of south London in the early 2000’s and has since grown from an underground phenomenon to an international trend with producers and artists from all over the globe.

The dubstep producers are continuing the dub craftmanship that evolved in Jamaica. They twist and turn the beats and riddims and then they deconstruct and reconstruct them again. It’s about breaking down and building up.

But then again, it’s also about the bass and the drums. Just like reggae.

The abyss-deep bass lines and the often complex drum patters are wobbling, hypnotic, distorted and filled with a high level of energy.

It’s highly addictive. At least in a setting that comprises dim lights, shady characters, cheap beer, sweaty t-shirts and speakers from the floor to the ceiling.

Invasion of the Mysteron Killer Sounds will give your woofers a real run for your money. Fasten your seatbelt and bring the Mysteron Killer Sounds. I’m ready.

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Reggaemani’s best compilations in 2010

Compilations can often be a bit dull and it’s tough not to wander away in the jungle of new compilations introduced on iTunes every week. This is probably one of the reasons why I think 2010 hasn’t been a great year for new compilations. It has just been too many with too poor quality.

But there are still compilations that are very well crafted and well compiled. The new Dennis Brown Anthology and Absolutely The Uniques just to name two.

But in my list of the best compilations in 2010, I’ve only selected various artists’ albums and eliminated those that are dedicated to just one artist or group. I’ve also excluded riddim compilations to narrow it down even further.

Below are the three compilations that I’ve enjoyed the most in 2010.

3. Various – Dancehall 2 – The Rise of Jamaican Dancehall Culture
The second edition in the Soul Jazz Records “Dancehall” series featuring some great dancehall moments with wicked artists such as Yellowman, Johnny Osbourne and Lone Ranger. An absolutely essential guide that features both classic tunes as well as rarer ones.

2. Various – Digital Acoustics
Gathers some of the best tunes from producer Curtis Lynch. Includes several relicks, but also some own material. A great introduction to this master producer and his hefty sounds.

1. Various – Bobo Revolution 2
Includes 21 cuts on nine well crafted riddims produced by mastermind Frenchie. Artists ranging from chanters to sweeter voices such as Peetah Morgan. No fillers, only killers.

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