Soul Jazz Revives Rocksteady’s Best
- Words: Tomas Palermo
Rocksteady fans have something new to cheer about, as London’s Soul Jazz imprint has added more to its already enormous cache of Studio One reissue compilations. Most early reggae collectors have religiously followed the dozens of excellently conceived and packaged compilations since the series debuted in 2001.
Clement “Sir Coxsone” Dodd, known as the father of the Jamaican recording industry, formed Studio One in 1963, and almost immediately found success with Bob Marley, Alton Ellis, Delroy Wilson, and Sugar Minott, to name a few. Dodd passed away in 2004 of a heart attack.
Soul Jazz has meticulously amassed many long out-of-print and classic Studio One recordings, releasing them as double-vinyl albums and compact discs. The following titles from 2007 and late last year represent some of the deeper collections, for fans that have already secured the core Studio One albums. Each compilation focuses on a particular theme or shared characteristic of the artists or songs, making for a smart overview of a label that forever impacted Jamaican music and the world’s appreciation of it.
Studio One Kings
Studio One’s list of singers launched at the famous label reads like a roll call of Jamaican music. Horace Andy, Alton Ellis, Ken Boothe, Freddie McGregor, Johnny Osbourne and more. This album features many rare and historically important songs (like Horace Andy’s “Every Tongue Shall Tell”), many which have been unavailable for decades. Highlights include Johnny Osbourne’s “Water More Than Flour,” on the Solomon rhythm, and Freddy McGregor’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.”
Studio One Rub-A-Dub
In the 1970s, Clement Dodd’s legendary Studio One Records went through an amazing period of rebirth, working with new artists such as Willie Williams, Lone Ranger, Michigan, Smiley, and Horace Andy. Dodd re-versioned his label’s classic riddims, putting Rapper Robert & Jim Brown on Full Up (Pass The Kutchie) and Barry Brown on Heptones Gonna Fight rhythm. Wicked!
Studio One Groups
This release features legendary groups from the foundation label of reggae. Bob Marley and The Wailers, Toots and the Maytals, The Heptones, and The Clarendonians. The compilation reflects the political sentiments of the time with righteous, instructive, and militant calls-to-action such as the Gaylads “Give A Helping Hand” or The Viceroys “The Struggle,” the latter of which indicts the Capitalist system as a cause for ghetto ills. Carlton & His Shoes’ “Happy Land” is a sparkling vocal harmony number that underscores the musicianship and talent of the day.
Studio One DJ's Vol. 2
This second volume of DJs from reggae’s legendary "University of Reggae," Studio One Records, features some of the finest toasters ever to be recorded in Jamaica. Dennis Alcapone, Prince Jazzbo, Little Joe, Brigadier Jerry, and King Stitt could show this generation’s dancehall deejay’s a thing or two about the mic. Tons of rare sides on classic Studio One rhythms. Choice cut is Lone Ranger’s “Tribute To Bob Marley.”
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