One Records (SJRCD 248 - 2011)
The Skatalites - Ball Of Fire
The Heptones - I'm Your Man
Lone Ranger - Everything She Want
Horace Andy - New Broom
Michigan & Smiley - Rub A Dub Style 12" Mix
The Maytals - Treat Me Bad
Freddy McKay - Watch Your Step
Pablove Black - Mr Music
Wailing Souls - Run My People
Willie Williams - Master Plan
The Skatalites- Fidel Castro
Marcia Griffiths - Let Me Hold You Tonight
Dub Specialist - Sitting With Stupid
Prince Jazzbo - Rock For Dub
Super And Sleepy - Enemy
Dub Specialist - Luanda
Doreen Schaeffer -This Love
Ernest Ranglin - Ranglin Doddlin
|Clement 'Sir Coxsone' Dodd was as much at home
hanging out with Tommy McCook, Don Drummond and Johnny Moore at the
extended music sessions with Count Ossie's musicians held at the
Rastafarian encampment at Rockfort at the foot of the Wareika Hills in
eastern Kingston as he was later to be found experimenting with drum
machines and synthesizers in a basement studio on Fulton Street in
Brooklyn, New York, while keeping the business in order supplying
international customers from Tokyo to Tottenham.
Who else knew how to speak on a level with Sister Ignatius, the hippest nun known to mankind who ran the Alpha Boys School, educator of the same McCook, Drummond and Moore - as well as Cedric Brooks, Rico, Vin Gordon, Harold McNair, Joe Harriott, Leroy Wallace and countless other celebrated Jamaican musicians?
Whilst acknowledged the foundation figure of the Jamaican music industry, Clement 'Sir Coxsone' Dodd was both enigmatic and complex. So while the world of reggae music sometimes seems to revolve around the boasts and toasts of many an artist, musician or producer with the phrase 'I invented reggae' or similar, endlessly echoing through the ether like sound systems DJ's smoke signal messages emanating from speaker boxes strung up across Kingston's night sky, it is ironic that the man who could most reasonably make such a claim rarely gave interviews or spoke to the press. Indeed Clement Dodd always let the music do the talking - living embodiment of the 'enough with the chatter, just spin the platter' school of thought.
From his earliest days playing records in his mother's bar as a young man, Coxsone Dodd went on to build a complex international business structure, creating a formidable black-owned empire that enabled the most creative singers and artists in Jamaica to shine, many becoming stars. Studio One was a 360-degree business before the term was even thought of, combining every aspect of the music industry. From dancehall to pressing plant, publishing house to studio, canteen to audition, macro to micro. Coxsone Dodd controlled it all. From travelling through the United States buying up rhythm and blues 45s in the 1950s to discussing head arrangements with Jackie Mittoo in the studio in the 1960s, humming melodies in his sleep, buying the latest musical and electronic equipment to try out, dealing with the competition in the dance (Duke Reid) and in business (Chris Blackwell and others), Clement Dodd lived and breathed music.
And while Dodd's foresight and emotional investment in letting a young Bob Marley stay in a flat within the studio one compound did not prevent the artist from leaving Coxsone at the end of the 1960s, he held to the belief that surrounding yourself with the most creative people was the best way to run a business. From Bob sitting beside a record deck at the studio, employed to play American import records and choosing which songs the singers and musicians at Studio One should cover next (a tough job, but someone had to do it) to Lee Perry's employment as handyman and budding vocalist or Prince Buster's occasional role as security at a Downbeat dance, Dodd was like a magnet for Jamaican artist talent.
In the 1950s and early 1960s Sir Coxsone Downbeat dancehall sessions would always be full of singers such as Ken Boothe or Alton Ellis amongst the crowd, there to hear their latest song on acetate (dub plate), perhaps recorded that same day. Also in attendance might be Count Ossie and his drummers, down from the hills for a live session at midnight.
In October 1963, Jamaican Recording and Publishing Studios, aka Studio One Records, opened at 13 Brentford Road in Kingston 5, (Brentford Road would be renamed Studio One Boulevard in 2004, just four days before Clement Dodd died). The studio complex was built on the site of a former nightclub named somewhat ironically considering what lay ahead, The End. Studio One became every reggae artist's first choice of label and preferred destination. Everyone - and we mean everyone - in Jamaica wanted to record for Coxsone. here in the studio yard, up to 200 aspiring as well as established artists would gather around in groups or on their own practising songs, swapping guitars, eating from the canteen run by Clement Dodd's mother, Mrs Darlington, while waiting for a chance at a recording session. Inside the studio the Skatalites - Jackie Mittoo, Don Drummond, Roland Alphonso Lloyd Brevett, Lloyd Knibbs, Lester Sterling and Jah Jerry - would be laying down rhythm tracks like there was no tomorrow. Here, at 13 Brentford Road, history was made on a daily basis.
One of the first groups through the gate to benefit from the musical backing of the newly employed full-time house band at Brentford Road were the Maytals, the fired-up gospel ska trio of Frederik 'Toots' Hibbert, Henry Gordon and Nathaniel Mathias.
Also featuring in the line-up on the Maytals' 'Treat Me Bad' was Ernest Ranglin, jazz and ska guitarist supreme and occasional member of the Skatalites. Many years later Ranglin would release his sole Studio One album, 'Sounds & Power' (1996), a chronological musical hyperspace as Ranglin revisits some of the classic original foundation rhythms of the 1960s, here riding the 'Movie Star' rhythm (the original backing to Delroy Wilson's 'I Don't Know Why', release in 1971.
The studio at Brentford Road was pretty much in constant use for Studio One recordings, Clement Dodd very occasionally rented the studio out to outside producers, who were hoping to grab of the strange magic inside. Those lucky enough to be allowed inside included producer Harry J. Johnson who recorded Lloyd Robinson's seminal 'Cuss Cuss', The Abyssinians who recorded the equally definitive 'Satta Massagana' and producer Harry Mudie, who recorded the classic 'Drifter' by singer Dennis Walks. Mudie was able to benefit from the abundant in-house talent at the studio, which on this occasion featured bassist Leroy Sibbles - moonlighting from his job as lead vocalist with perhaps Jamaica's greatest ever harmony group, The Heptones. 'Drifter' is versioned here by English-born deejay, Anthony Waldren, aka The Lone Ranger, backed by Studio One's own Brentford Disco Set on 'Everything She Want', which features on his 1977 debut album for Studio One, 'The Other Side Of Dub'.
A belief in 'giving the people what the people want' and a musical open-mindedness enabled Clement Dodd and Studio One to effortlessly move with the times. Consequently, the Studio One catalogue covers every style and variation in Jamaican music that existed in its lifetime. here we are proud to bring you a selection. from the first Jamaican interpretations of those cherished rhythm and blues 45s of Roscoe Gordon, Big Joe Turner or Wynonie Harris through the evolution and rise of Jamaican music's various developments - ska, rocksteady, reggae, roots, dub, DJ and dancehall - Studio One was always on it, leading the pack, ahead of the game, away from the crowd and smokin'.
And while some purist ska and rocksteady fans huddled in the corner of now defunct record stores may have sometimes sermonised on how Sir Coxsone had 'lost it' when he began overdubbing those seminal instrumental rhythms first created at the studio in the 1960s with drum machines and synthesisers, the tidal wave of dancehall that has now dominated the Jamaican music industry for more than 30 years suggest he was on the right track.
Similarly, while the American art forms of hip-hop and disco are credited with inventing sampling and the extended mix respectively, you have to wonder what someone like Clement Dodd made of these claims, with the re-versioning of songs for deejays and dub a constant in Jamaican music since the late 1960s. Check out Studio One's Dub Specialist releases for spaced-out remixes that anyone from Tom Moulton to Francois K would have been proud of. And it's a rare and unique man who could have the imagination or confidence to allow anyone to 'tamper' with Alton Ellis's classic 'I'm Just A Guy' - reinventing here once again into the deejay anthem 'Rub A Dub Style' by Michigan & Smiley, complete with extended remix, sound effects, overdubbed repeater drum, syn-drums and more chat and all that. It's hard to imagine, say, Berry Gordy countenancing such sacrilege.
Whether it was Horace Andy or Marcia Griffiths, Willie Williams or Freddie McKay, Coxsone knew a great singer when he heard one. Horace Hinds, the young boy (a cousin of Justin 'Carry Go Bring Come' Hinds) from Allman Town who auditioned with partner Frank Melody in 1970 and was rechristened Horace Andy in homage to the then current songwriter and artist at Studio One, Bob Andy. 'My Broom' was originally released on the Studio One offshoot Money Disc label in 1973. Although Horace Andy's nickname is 'Sleepy', he is not in fact the same 'Sleepy' who teams up with Super for 'Enemy'. This sing-jay partnership was the work of Devon Russell and Keith Coley (from The Silvertones). Russell would in 1982 be rewarded with his own solo album for the label.
Jackie Mittoo's recommendations of a Canadian-based brethren, Willie Williams (who had first recorded for Coxsone as a teenager back in 1966 with Calling) led to Williams returning to Kingston to sing over reworked classic Studio One rhythms in the same period as Johnny Osbourne, Freddie McGregor and Michigan & Smiley during the label's Indian summer of 1979. Osbourne himself had also recently returned from Canada, having emigrated there 10 years earlier the day after releasing an album for Techniques as well as a sole debut single for Coxsone ('All I Have Is Love') on which he was backed by his group the Wild Cats.
It is hard to imagine many singers capable of making the journey from ska to the disco-mix style of the late 1970s, but Doreen Schaeffer is just such a singer. An original member of The Skatalites during their brief but intense rule of the land in the early 1960s, Schaeffer was one of four singers drafted in to The Skatalites for their live shows alongside Jackie Opel, Tony DaCosta and calypso star Joseph 'Lord Tanamo' Gordon. Schaeffer's 'This Love' appeared on the album 'Pirate's Choice' an album released by Clement Dodd in response to a bootleg of the then most in-demand Studio One tracks at the start of the 1980s.
And whilst we are speaking about The Skatalites, listen to 'Ball Of Fire' (quite literally) to hear the sound of molten energy unleashed, of a new nation, of things to come. The song is based on English composer Laurie Johnson's 1961 theme to British television series Echo Two Four. The intensity of the group's sound gets even heavier on 'Fidel Castro', the whiff off revolution in the air as The Skatalites turn up the heat, a perhaps cautionary Caribbean warning just two years after Jamaican independence and a model showcase for the finest musicians in the land.
When The Skatalites split up, keyboardist Jackie Mittoo became perhaps the central musical figure at Studio One in the mid-1960s, working daily as musical co-ordinator and arranger in the studio. So you might have thought that Mittoo's departure for Canada in 1968 would have left Studio One's output diminished. Once again, Clement Dodd was able to prove that Studio One was more than the sum of its parts, as a steady stream of talented keyboardists stepped up to the plate: Robbie Lyn, Richard Ace, Vin Gordon all played their part. Pablove Black was perhaps the last in this lineage of great keyboardists at the label, often sharing lines with Mittoo (who would often fly back to Jamaica for sessions), and an integral member of the Brentford All Stars/Disco Set. Black cut a number of solo sides, including one long player ('Mr Music Originally') released in 1979, shortly before Clement Dodd, tired of the daily Kingston violence, closed the Brentford Road studio and set up in Brooklyn, New York.
So now we bring you the latest instalment from the vaults of the legendary Studio One Records, foundation label of reggae music. Coxsone sound, number one sound.
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