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Studio One Showcase (SJRCD236 - 2016)

See a Man's Face - Horace Andy
Right On Rasta - Cedric Brooks & Count Ossie
Jah Dread - Prince Jazzbo
What About Me - Myrna Hague
Time to Be Happy - Michigan and Smiley
Stick Together - Wailing Souls
Have No Fear - Sugar Minott
Just Another Day - Judah Eskender Tafari
Chucky Skank - Dillinger
Bredda Labba Labba - Freddie McGregor
Stay With Me - Frankie Wilmoth
People a Watch Me - Johnny Osbourne
Tribulation - The Gladiators
Hard to Confess - The Heptones
Fish Tea - Lone Ranger
Ain't No Love - Jennifer Lara
Send Another Moses - The Willows
Joy in the Morning - The Gaylads & The Brentford Disco Set
 
It might have seemed to casual observers that by the start of the 1970s, Clement Dodd's musical career had peaked and was about to begin its decline. The previous two decades had given him more success than most aspired to in a lifetime. From the mid-1950s on, the Downbeat Soundsystem had conquered all opponents - from Duke Reid to Prince Buster - and shaped and led the musical landscape of the dancehall. In the 1960s, the establishment of Studio One Records at 13 Brentford Road in Kingston had led to a Ford Motors-esque production line of hits that similarly defined reggae music.

But the 1970s was to prove Dodd's most challenging and yet ultimately the most creative decade of all. Like the most zealous and resourceful of pioneers, Studio One was about to embark on a stunning era of reinvention, adaptation, stripping down and versioning, each step of which marked new musical developments in reggae music.

Lesser mortals might have balked at the challenges facing the producer, not least of which would have been the departure of three of his most successful artists - Bob Marley & The Wailers, The Heptones and Burning Spear - all to Chris Blackwell's Island Records, the allure of international success a heady drug.

But these challenges were nothing new to Clement Dodd. Halfway through the previous decade, Studio One's most significant group, The Skatalites, had lasted barely more than a year before disbanding, with Don Drummond, the troubled musical genius in the group, imprisoned (and later taking his life) in a mental institute after killing his girlfriend, the dancer Anita 'Marguerita' Mahfood. Similarly, a hard pill to swallow must have been the migration to Canada in 1968 of Jackie Mittoo, Studio One's musical arranger and Clement Dodd's right-hand man during countless sessions throughout the second half of the 1960s.

But Clement Dodd embraced change wholeheartedly and somehow these challenges simply seemed to fade away as he searched for the creative and economic solutions needed to maintain the label's stunning output of the most in-demand reggae. How did he do this?

Without a doubt, central to this equation was Dodd's ability to surround himself with the most talented artists. Clement Dodd and Studio One were like a magnet to artists - anyone who was anyone knew that the one door to knock down to launch your career was the entrance to 13 Brentford Road. Regular Sunday open auditions in the yard meant that Coxsone, or the trusted ears of Mittoo, Larry Marshall or other musical marshals, meant that a constant tap flowed with incoming talent.

But perhaps more fundamental was the use of new technology to breakdown and reshape the music itself. With so many foundation rhythms (instrumental backings) to songs created in the 1960s by the island's best musicians, Clement Dodd was happy to explore the musical possibilities of re-using these rhythms to stunning effect. Here he was not alone, and at the start of the 1970s the island fell in love with the new songs created by deejays singing first live and later in the studio over original and well-known rhythm tracks (the results of which became known as deejay music). Similarly, the studio console or mixing desk became an instrument in itself, as creative operatives began to play with echo and reverb, isolating sounds and dropping vocals and instruments in and out (which became known as dub).

Not only was Dodd on top of these musical and technological developments, he reveled and excelled in them, producing the most creative, uplifting, joyful, righteous and inventive music on a daily basis. Indeed, Dodd said himself that it was constant absorption in music that gave him the edge over other producers on the island.

At the height of the Downbeat Soundsystem in the late 1960s, Clement Dodd ran up to four soundsystems an evening playing across the island as deejays Count Machuki, King Stitt and others kept the crowd uplifted by the sweet flowing new sounds created at Studio One. When in the 1970s he closed down his soundsystems, Dodd began selling exclusive dubs (one-off acetate records) to visiting soundmen (soundsystem operators). These often had their own unique mixes, maybe with the bass dropping in or the vocals taken off to ensure exclusivity. Arming rival deejays with these musical weapons, allowed Studio One to remain omnipresent in the dancefloor at this time, without ever missing a beat.

Perhaps the most serious challenge to Clement Dodd's number one spot came in the late 1970s when at first a small trickle of producers, and then an avalanche, began to emulate (copy) many of the now firmly-established classic rhythms from Studio One to make their own recordings. The Hookim brothers at Channel One, Joe Gibbs and Bunny Lee were among hundreds to employ The Aggrovators, Professionals, Roots Radics and other session players in their reinterpretations of the music of Studio One.

Once again Sir Coxsone rose to the challenge in fine style - re-versioning his own hits, employing all the dubbing, overlaying and technological tricks he learnt in the early 1970s to create sublime new dancehall of the highest quality. Effortlessly joyful, endlessly inventive, anew breed of deejays and singers - Sugar Minott, Freddie McGregor, Michigan & Smiley, Lone Ranger and others - sang over Studio One's original classic rhythms, often with the seamless overlaying of extra instrumentation supplied by the Brentford All Stars session players, as well as syn-drums, close harmony backing vocals, tape looping and more besides.

These late 1970s records were a defining moment in the history of Studio One, a clear message that whether it was taking on Duke Reid on the lawns of Kingston in the 1950s or seeing off Channel one, Joe Gibbs and the other new record producers in the late 1970s, that Studio One remained the number one sound. Always.

At the end of the decade, Clement Dodd left Jamaica due to the escalation of political violence on the island, switching his base to Fulton Street, Brooklyn. While the studio remained open at 13 Brentford Road, Dodd continued to voice new recording, but began to shift his focus to the international market. A new phase in the history of the label had begun.

Horace Any - See A Man's Face
"You see a man's face
But you don't see his heart
You see a man's face
But you don't know his thoughts"

Horace hinds (aka Horace Andy) was born in Kingston in 1951. Andy had already recorded for producer Phil Pratt before he auditioned for Clement Dodd in 1970, initially as part of a duo with his singing partner Frank melody. 'See A Man's Face' was one of a series of stunning singles recorded with the newly installed house band The Soul Defenders at Studio One between 1970 and 1972, which were brought together for Andy's debut album Skylarking released in 1972.

Cedric Brooks & Count Ossie - Right On Rasta
These two seminal instrumentalists feature on many classic Studio One recordings as session players par excellence. Ex-Alpha Boys School student Brooks first came to Studio One with trumpeter David Madden recording as Im & David, and was a key session player at the studio working alongside The Sound Dimension, Soul Brothers, Soul Defenders. Brentford All Stars and other house bands at Studio One over the years. In 1970 he first teamed up with the Rastafarian drummer extraordinaire Count Ossie, as Im & Count Ossie, to release a small number of Rastafarian inspired singles including 'So Long Rastafari Calling' and 'Right On Rasta', the latter released on the Coxsone subsidiary label Iron Side in 1971. The pair joined forces once again in 1974 to create the ground-breaking group The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari.

Prince Jazzbo - Jah Dread
Linval Roy Carter (aka Prince Jazzbo) was born in Clarendon Parish in 1951 and grew up in Kingston. He began his deejaying career on the Whip sound system in Spanish Town, making his way to Studio One around 1972. Fellow deejay Dennis Alcapone, who was cutting some sides for Studio One at the time, recalled the arrival of Prince Jazzbo at the studio with excitement. He was told about 'a singer coming from country who was something else' after he had just recorded the classic 'Crabwalking' )which appears on Studio One Rockers) over Horace Andy's equally classic 'Skylarking'. Jazzbo cut a number of sides for Coxsone, later going to work with producers Lee Perry, Bunny Lee and Glen Adams before setting up his own Ujama label at the end of the 1970s.

Myrna Hague - What About Me
Born in Jamaica but brought up in the UK, Myrna Hague first worked as a performer in Europe. She eventually migrated back to Jamaica, finding work on the North Coast hotel tourist circuit accompanied by bandleader Sonny Bradshaw (whom she would marry) and his group The Sonny Bradshaw Seven. The circuit was a source of regular employment for many of the island's musicians and Studio One was well connected here as elsewhere - think of releases by The Hiltonaires as well as Jerry Jones' album recorded live at The Kingston Hotel. Hague recalls that Clement Dodd 'called for me one day' to come down to the studio to record some songs, releasing a series of singles on the Faze Four Studio One subsidiary label followed by her one album, Melody Life, released on the main Studio One label in the mid to late 1970s.

Michigan & Smiley - Time To Be Happy
Anthony Fairclough (aka Papa Michigan) and Erroll Bennett (aka General Smiley) were part of the new youthful generation of deejays and singers who came to Brentford Road at the end of the 1970s to reinvigorate the label, riding the foundation Studio One rhythms to herald the onset of dancehall as the dominant island sound. These young artists had grown up listening to the sound of Studio One, and the ease and pleasure with which they sang on record belied the many, many hours they had spent practicing these rhymes, firstly in their bedrooms and later on local sound systems.

Michigan & Smiley first came together in 1978. Growing up in Union Garden, Kingston 13, the duo began deejaying on a sound system called Third World, later switching to Black Harmony, whose owner then took them to Clement Dodd.

With no gun talk, no slackness, plenty of righteousness and sheer lyrical joy and humour, Michigan and Smiley's seminal dancehall songs recorded for Studio One at the end of the 1970s, shortly before the political violence on the island led Clement Dodd to relocate the labels headquarters to New York, ensured the name of Studio One remained firmly in place as dancehall became the new island sound.

The Wailing Souls - Stick Together
This classical vocal group formed in 1964, originally known as The Renegades. Like The Wailers, the group were coached in vocals by Joe Higgs. After adopting the name The Wailing Souls in 1968, they arrived at Studio One in 1970 for a series of stunning singles ('Row Fisherman Row', 'Black Out' and 'Mr Fire Coal Man') which blended sublime vocal harmonies alongside a Rastafarian inspired roots righteousness. The Wailing Souls had a long term relationship with Studio One over many years (their last album at the studio was released in 2003) while also working with a number of other significant producers including the Hookim brothers at Channel One, Sly & Robbie at Taxi and Junjo Lawes at Volcano.

Sugar Minott - Have No Fear
The artist charged with first revitalising Studio One in the mid-1970s is Sugar Minott. Lincoln Barrington Minott was born in 1956. His musical career began as selector on the Sound of Silence Keystone sound system and then his own Gathering of Youth. His singing career began in 1969 in The African Brothers, alongside Tony Tuff and Derek Howard, releasing a number of singles on Micron and their own Ital label. Before breaking up in 1974 they recorded one single at Studio One ('No Cup No Broke').

From here Minott launched his solo career in collaboration with Clement Dodd, creating and singing new songs over existing earlier rhythms - a practice that singers and deejays had been doing live in the dancehall for a number of years but not in the studio. This prescient switch signaled the arrival of dancehall over the following years which Minott's many releases for Studio One heralded.

'Have No Fear' was recorded circa 1976. In 1979 Minott relocated to the UK, once again spearheading the arrival of a new genre, this time Lovers Rock. He returned to Jamaica in the early 1980s working for countless producers (such as Mikey Dread, George Phang, Sly & Robbie, Philip Burrell, Channel One, Prince Jammy and Donovan Germaine) as well as running his own Youth Promotion sound system and Black Roots record label.

Judah Eskender Tafari - Just Another Day
Ronald Merrills, aka Judah Eskender Tafari was born in Gordon Town, St Andrew. Merrills was brought to Studio One by fellow members of the Twelve Tribes of Israel branch of the Rastafarian faith, keyboard player Pablove Black and bassist Bagga Walker, session players in the house band The Brentford Road All Stars. Merrills recalls his first single for the label ('Jah Light') being released just a few weeks after it was recorded. Alongside his career as a vocalist at Studio One, Merrills also worked as a bass player for The Twelve Tribes of Israel band, backing up a steady stream of artists such as Freddie McGregor, Judy Mowatt, Dennis Brown, Brigadier Jerry and Fred Locks.

Dillinger - Chucky Skank
Lester Bulluck (aka Dillinger) was born in Kingston in 1953. His first deejay work began in 1971 on the Prince Jackie and El Paso sound systems, where he was known as 'Dennis Alcapone Jr' in homage to the older deejay. His first record was for Lee Scratch Perry but he made his first recording for Clement Dodd in 1973 with 'Chucky Skank' which was released as a single on the subsidiary Iron Side label. His debut album Ready Natty Dreadie, came out in 1975. Dillinger became on of the most in-demand deejays in Jamaica also working with producers such as Augustus Pablo, Lee Perry, Harry J and the Hookim brothers at Channel One.

Freddie McGregor - Bredda Labba Labba
Freddie McGregor was born in Clarendon in 1956. With Ernest Wilson and Peter Austin he formed The Clarendonians in 1963, making his first recordings for the Studio One label, aged just seven years old and known as 'Little Freddie' The Group became a mainstay of the label, releasing over a dozen singles throughout the 1960s. After the group split up at the start of the 1970s, McGregor released a series of singles as a solo artist at Studio One, where he remained for much of the 1970s. In the mid-1970s McGregor also joined the Twelve Tribes of Israel Rastafarian organisation.

His stunning 1979 album, Bobby Bobylon, which brought together many of his earliest singles, became one of the most important release for the label in the late 1970s, alongside other landmark releases by Sugar Minott, Jennifer Lara, Lone Ranger and Michigan & Smiley. In 1982 Freddie released a second album for Clement Dodd, 'I Am Ready', which included 'Bredda Labba Labba' featured here.

Frankie Wilmoth - Stay With Me
Solo Release for vocalist Frankie Wilmoth (also known as Wilmott) at Studio One, a fantastic slice of uplifting vocals voiced over the Sweet Soul Rocking rhythm. Wilmoth also recorded numerous singles for Jammy's, Exterminator and the Oneness label.

Johnny Osbourne - People A Watch Me
Errol Osbourne (aka Johnny Osbourne) was born in Jamaica in 1948. He became lead vocalist for the group The Wildcats in 1967 and his debut single ('All I Have Is Love') was released at Studio One two years later. At around the same time he recorded the album 'Come Back Darling' as Johnny Osbourne and The Sensations for Winston Riley's Techniques label before leaving for Canada the same year where he became lead vocalist for the group Ishan People.

In 1979 he returned to Jamaica, and was soon recording extensively for Clement Dodd. This resulted in the seminal 'Truth And Rights' album which quickly became a cornerstone reggae album. the vocalist became much in demand recording hits with many of the new breed of digital producers on the island including Jammy's and Bobby Digital. Osbourne is one of the few artists that Clement Dodd continued to record with well into the next decade, even after he moved his base to Fulton Street, Brooklyn, New York where he also set-up a small voicing studio.

The Gladiators - Tribulation
Singer and guitarist Albert Griffiths formed The Gladiators in 1968 along with friends David Webber and Errol Grandison. They recorded their first single, 'Hello Carol', for Clement Dodd the same year. The Gladiators became one of the premier vocal roots groups in the 1970s working with a number of producers including Lloyd Daley and Lee Perry but (as ever) it is their work at Studio One during this period that is their finest. After a stunning set of singles for the label (including 'Bongo Red' and 'Jah Jah Go Before Us' and others) the group signed to Virgin in the UK in 1976. Clement Dodd released the Presenting the Gladiators collection the following year, which brought together some of their earlier singles.

The Heptones - Hard To Confess
Leroy Sibbles, Earl Morgan and Barry Llewellyn formed The Heptones in 1965 and arrived at Studio One the following year. One of the defining vocal harmony groups of the rocksteady and reggae eras, The Heptones were led by the talented Sibbles, not only an exquisite singer, but also songwriter, arranger and session bassist for Studio One. After being taught the bass by Jackie Mittoo, Sibble's distinctive basslines featured on many of the classic Sound Dimension and Soul Vendors rhythms cut in the late 1960s, such as 'Full Up'. Alton Ellis's 'I'm Still In Love With You', and The Abyssinians' 'Satta Massagana'.

The Heptones recorded extensively for Studio One until 1973 when Sibbles moved to Canada. He returned to Jamaica in 1975, when the group recorded albums for Island, Lee Perry and Jo Jo Hookim, often featuring versions of earlier Studio One recordings. Never a man to be outdone, Clement Dodd would occasionally re-version earlier Studio One recordings, subtly adding new bass and keyboard parts, syndrums, extending cuts in an almost subliminal manner such as on The Heptones' 'Hard To confess', a cover of an earlier Gaylads tune. The Heptones' cut originally appeared on the first Studio One Showcase album around 1978 and was also released as a 12" single.

Lone Ranger - Fish Tea
Anthony Waldron (aka Lone Ranger) was born in Jamaica in 1958. After spending his youth in the UK, he returned to Jamaica and began his recording career at Studio One in 1977 where he released a number of classic singles and two albums. On The Other Side Of Dub (the second side of which was all dub cuts) and Badda Dan Dem. The latter, which includes 'Fish Tea' was recorded in 1982 after returning to the studio following his massive 'Barnabus Collins' hit for Alvin Ranglin's Thrillseekers label. Like Sugar Minott, Michigan & Smiley and Freddie McGregor, Lone Ranger's work represents Studio One's halcyon days, when Dodd enjoyed and reveled in the challenge (and compliment) of dancehall.

Jennifer Lara - Ain't No Love
Jennifer Lara was born in Jamaica in 1953. She first began working at Studio One as a backing singer after being brought to the studio by Sound Dimension's keyboardist Richard Ace at the start of the 1970s. Lara would have to wait 10 years to record her solo debut release, a stunning album featuring another seamless combination of re-workings of old rhythms updated and new songs cut at 13 Brentford Road. 'Ain't No Love' featured here is a version of soul singer Eddie Floyd's 'I've Never Found A Girl', recorded for Stax Records in 1968 and first covered at Studio One by Jackie Mittoo for the late 1960s classic instrumental cut 'Freak Out' (which is also the backing cut used by Jennifer Lara).

The Willows - Send Another Moses
Another fantastic mid-1970s one-off single, this time from The Willows, recorded with the house band listed as The Brentford Reggae Band. Whether credited as The Brentford Road All Stars, Brentford Rockers, Brentford Disco Set or Brentford Reggae Band, the group were essentially made up of the same group of musicians who worked at the studio throughout the 1970s. They included Vin Morgan, Leroy 'Horsemouth' Wallace, Bagga Walker, Cedric Brooks and Pablove Black.

The Gaylads -Joy In The Morning
A superb final example of an updating of an earlier recording, as The Brentford Disco Set 'enhance' the vocal trio The Gaylad's classic tune into a timeless new extended version. It's new instrumentation belies the fact that when this 12" was released at the end of the 1970s, the group had not been in existence for a number of years. Formed in Kingston in the mid-1960s Harris 'BB' Seaton, Winston Delano Stewart and Maurice Roberts became one of the premier vocal harmony rocksteady groups of the 1960s for Studio One, also supplying back up vocals to many of the label's other singers including Ken Parker, Ken Boothe and Delroy Wilson.

S. Baker
 
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