For Studio One/Yep Roc’s second compilation of rare Studio One singles they look to Clement “Coxsone” Dodd’s Bongo Man imprint. More than half of the cuts on Natural High – The Bongo Man Collection have never been released on an album before and it also adds a previously unreleased discomix version of Horace Andy’s epic Skylarking complete with a toast by Prince Jazzbo.
Coxsone Dodd ran several sublabels to Studio One and Bongo Man was dedicated to the rootiser side of his productions and includes astonishing cuts from The Classics aka The Wailing Souls, The Beltones, Prince Lincoln of The Royal Rasses and Kingstonians’ lead singer Jackie Bernard along with many more.
The set was originally released for Record Store Day only, but is now available on a wider scale. The vinyl is and eye-catching red, gold and green and collections like these are essential and manage to uncover long-lost gems.
Jamaican singer Freddie McGregor started his career in his early teens in the 60s. He recorded for Studio One – first as part of The Clarendonians and later as a solo artist. And it was as a solo singer he recorded his best material for producers such as Niney and Clement “Coxsone” Dodd.
And it was to Coxone Dodd and Studio One Freddie McGregor returned for his masterpiece album Bobby Bobylon, released in circa 1979 and reissued a dozen or so times since then. The latest reissue came only a few months ago through the Studio One and Yep Roc collaboration.
This reissue is actually the same release as the Heartbeat version in 2006 and includes both the original ten track album as well as a whopping eight bonus cuts, including four lethal disco mixes with guest talents such as Lone Ranger and Jackie Mittoo.
Bobby Bobylon – with its anthemic title track – is essential to any record collection. It holds some of Freddie McGregor’s best material, such as album opener Bandulo, Gonna Take Over Now, a killer version of The Ethiopians classic, the mystical Rastaman Camp and the smoothly militant I Am a Revolutionist.
An amazing album from one of Jamaica’s most beloved vocalists.
About ten years ago Heartbeat issued a compilation with B-sides taken from Studio One singles. That compilation has been deleted for many years, but has now been reissued by Studio One and Yep Roc Records.
Version Dread comes with a hefty 18 B-sides of rare Studio One singles, and includes versions of classic cuts by the likes of Wailing Souls, Abyssinians and Burning Spear. Also included are two extended mixes – Never Give Version by Carlton and the Shoes and a rare mix of Ernest Ranglin’s Surfing. Neither of these songs were featured on the original LP.
These tracks are in some cases little more than glorious instrumentals of reggae staples and the music is presented with vocals dropping in and out of the mix. But the mixing engineers – label head Clement “Coxsone” Dodd and Sylvan Morris – have added none or very little effects. The music is what you get. Check excellent cuts like Please Be True Version, a cut of Alexander Henry’s original, or The Brentford Rockers’ version of Cornell Campbell’s Natty Don’t Go.
To call these cuts just versions doesn’t really give them credit for their greatness. These tracks are sublime and timeless instrumentals.
Up until the mid-70s supreme producer Clement ”Coxsone” Dodd had been ruling the Jamaican music scene for almost two decades and had only been challenged by Duke Reid. But the musical landscape was changing and he was increasingly challenged by producers like Bunny Lee, Joe Gibbs, Niney and a host of others.
And in the late 70s dancehall emerged and producers along with singers and deejays were increasingly starting to utilize and re-lick foundation riddims, especially from Studio One. Coxsone wanted, and needed, to be part of this new music and started to update his old riddims as well as creating new ones.
He continued to work with several veteran and returning artists like Alton Ellis, Horace Andy and Johnny Osbourne as well as turning to new and upcoming talents such as Lone Ranger, Sugar Minott and deejay duo Michigan & Smiley.
He updated his signature sound and managed to adapt new musical fashions and continued to stay relevant in the ever-changing Jamaican music industry. This is showcased on Soul Jazz Records’ latest Studio One compilation Studio One Supreme – Maximum 70s And 80s Early Dancehall Sounds, which comes with classics and lesser-known gems from some of Jamaica’s finest artists.
Standout cuts include Johnny Osbourne’s soulful album opener Keep That Light, Michigan & Smiley’s Compliment To Studio One, The Gladiators’ Happy Man and Lone Ranger’s Quarter Pound of Ishen, all presented in glorious discomix versions.
With the help of creative musical and technological developments of the 70s – syndrums, synthesizers, discomixes and more – Coxsone Dodd re-invented his organic sound for a new generation of reggae fans.
The 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.
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.
These 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.
There 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.
With 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.
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.
On Soul Jazz Records’ third installment of Studio One dubs the crew have culled cuts from a number of different sources, mainly from Studio One dub albums released in the 70s, but also from 45s released during the same period.
As usual with the warm and organic recordings coming from Studio One the riddims are immaculate and the musicianship superb with several well-known riddims, including Every Tongue Shall Tell and Darker Shade of Black.
However, Clement “Coxsone” Dodd’s mixing style is rather simple and non-imaginative and most cuts are rather instrumentals than dub versions. But the sheer quality of the music makes this a very worthwhile compilation, and more melancholic tracks are the strongest.
Dub Creation – a version of Dennis Brown’s monumental Created by the Father – puts forward the haunting organ and a lingering guitar, while Libra Dub makes excellent use of the clavinet. Dakar is a spellbinding version of the melancholic Gates of Zion riddim, where Clement Dodd lifts the simple and hypnotic bass line ot higher heights.
Clement Dodd wasn’t as adventorous as King Tubby or Scientist behind the mixing desk, but he always had an ace up his sleeve – the riddims created at Studio One in the 60s.
If you have been into reggae for a while you’ll probably know about producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd and his studio and label Studio One. If you are collecting reggae records you’ll probably also know that Studio One records are highly sought after. You’ll need to have an abyssal wallet to buy the originals, which you often need, because several Studio One records haven’t been properly reissued for many years. Some have never been reissued.
But now things might change since Studio One has started a reissue program together with U.S. based Yep Roc Music Group. The first release is The Wailers’ debut album The Wailing Wailers, a set originally released in 1965. The album comes with the original cover art and track listing and is sourced from the Jamaican master tapes.
The Wailers recorded about 100 songs at Studio One and The Wailing Wailers collects twelve of those. It’s a collection of dance scorchers and pleading love songs heavily influenced by vintage R&B and doo wop backed by some of Jamaica’s greatest musicians ever – The Skatalites.
Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, aka The Wailers, would later – together as well as solo artists – re-record several of the songs featured on this album. Put It On and One Love are stone-cold classics classics, but usually not the versions here. Tracks like those – along with Simmer Down and Rude Boy – show a glimpse of what was to come from one of the most important groups in music history.