A new 15 track compilation from Dub Store Records spotlights one of the giants on the Jamaican music scene – Winston Riley. He’s probably best known for producing Sister Nancy’s groundbreaking single Bam Bam, originally released in the early 80s, or Dave and Ansell Collins’ funky Double Barrell, a cut that probed its way into the UK national pop charts in May, 1971.
But Winston Riley was active way before the 80s and he started in the music industry as a singer as early as 1962 when he formed The Techniques, one of Jamaica’s finest vocal groups. Two years later he and his group scored a hit song with the excellent Little Did You Know.
But when the rhythm changed from ska and rock steady to reggae Winston Riley turned to production and formed his own Techniques label, a label that put out a whole heap of quality releases, as showcased on the mighty fine compilation Winston Riley’s Rock Steady & Early Reggae 1968-1969 – The Techniques & Friends.
In Jamaica in the 60s vocal groups was the order of the day. And this becomes obvious when checking the track list of this album. Only one track is credited to a solo singer. Dave Barker in this case. But he’s featured on other cuts as well since he was also part of The Techniques ever-changing line-up, a line-up that over a few years also included talents such as Winston Riley, Slim Smith, Pat Kelly, Lloyd Parks and Bruce Ruffin. All of them continued to pursue successful solo careers as singers, producers and engineers.
The period covered on the compilation is one of the best in Jamaica’s musical history. It’s upbeat with beautiful singing and harmonizing. And the influence from U.S. soul is deep-rooted.