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Various Artists Soul Jazz Records Presents: Studio One Sound Review

Compilation. Released 2012.  

BBC Review

An exceptional track selection makes this one a winner.

David Katz 2012

Knowledge of Studio One is integral to an understanding of reggae. More than any other Jamaican production stable, Studio One was a crucial force during the 1960s and 70s, being the true home of ska and a hugely important site of early reggae.

London’s Soul Jazz began an association with Studio One founder Clement Dodd during the 1990s, helping to introduce this great music to a whole new audience. Dodd’s death interrupted the release schedule, but Studio One Sound shows that things are back on track. It’s a sublime set of little-known material from the label’s heyday.

It opens with Hip Hug, Slim Smith’s wonderful rock steady dance tune, which is followed by the extraordinary funk-roots of Good People, an exceptionally rare 1979 offering from Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus. Lord Tanamo’s Keep on Moving is an alternate take of Jackie Mittoo’s Totally Together, and The Wailing Souls’ Trouble Maker has the harmonic brilliance that made their name.

Elsewhere, Rita Marley’s Call to Me reminds of her early renown, and Johnny Osbourne’s All I Have Is Love is absolutely chilling. But the cheesy version of Smokey Robinson’s I Second That Emotion is pure novelty-value stuff – credited to The Martinis, it features Bajan singer Emile Straker.

More noteworthy highlights include Irvin Brown’s falsetto party tune, Run Come, The Heptones’ stunning Give Give Love, Jackie Opel’s ska-gospel The Lord Is With Me, and Ken Boothe’s heartbroken I Am a Fool. Larry Marshall’s take on The Gaylads’ There’s a Fire is full of emotion, and Freddie McGregor’s wonderful Homeward Bound is yet another standout, as are a few splendid instrumentals.

Liner notes by discographer Rob Chapman add context, albeit despite minor errors, and the sound quality is occasionally a bit muffled. Also, why a photo of Dennis Brown during his A&M phase was chosen for the front cover, when he does not appear on the disc, is something of a mystery. But the exceptional track selection, masterfully chosen by Oxman of Dub Vendor, makes this one a winner in every sense.

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