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Studio One Soul 2 (SJRCD 128 - 2006)

Jacob Miller - Westbound Train
Hortense Ellis - People Make The World Go Round
Horace Andy - Ain't No Sunshine
Soul Vendors - Swing Easy
The Heptones - Choice Of Colours
Jackie Mittoo & The Disco Set - Choice Of Music Pt.2
Prince Jazzbo - Fool For Love
Cornell Campbell - Ten To One
Winston Francis - Don't Change
Jackie Mittoo - Jumping Jehosophat
Tony Gregory - Get Out Of My Life Woman
Dub Specialist - Darker Block
Little Joe - Red Robe
Devon Russell - Make Me Believe In You
Jerry Jones - Compared To What
Ken Boothe - Thinking
Anthony Creary - Land Called Africa
Jackie Mittoo - Fancy Pants
 
Welcome to the second instalment of Studio One Soul, showing how reggae has been influenced by American soul and funk music (not to mention Yiddish folk and the British Invasion!). The album features a host of classic Studio One artists - Horace Andy, The Heptones, ken Boothe, Jackie Mittoo, Cornel Campbell and many more - matched with classic American soul and funk tunes by the likes of Curtis Mayfield, the Five Stairsteps, Marvin Gaye, the Stylistics, Lee Dorsey, Al Green and Syl Johnson.

Ever since the 1950s - when the first Jamaican R&B records began to appear - black American music has influenced the evolution of reggae. Sir Coxsone's Downbeat and Duke Reid's Trojan Soundsystems both started out in Kingston playing the sounds of New Orleans, Memphis, Chicago and New York - as records by Wynonie Harris, Fats Domino, Willis Jackson, Roscoe Gordon and Ruth Brown dominated the earliest dances.

By the mid-1960s rocksteady was firmly rooted in the new soul sounds of the US and whilst the beautiful harmonisation of Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions supplied the template for countless Jamaican vocal harmony groups, Jamaican artists also responded to the radicalisation that the American civil rights movement had on soul artists.

The incredible roster of artists at Studio One was no exception to this rule and often interpreted the soul and funk music from the USA - spurred on by Clement Dodd, international record-collector and voracious connoisseur.

Like so many reggae superstars, Jacob Miller began his recording career at Studio One. He was just thirteen when 'Love Is A Message' was released on the subsidiary Money Disc label in 1968. Later he worked with Augustus Pablo, cutting masterpieces like 'Baby, I Love You So', and found international success with his group Inner Circle in the mid-70s before being tragically killed in a car crash in 1980, aged 25. 'Westbound Train' is a previously unreleased gem from Brentford Road. The song was written by Dennis Brown - another child prodigy at Studio One - though the rhythm quotes Al Green's soul classic 'Love And Happiness'.

Hortense Ellis was born in 1949 in Trenchtown, Kingston, and made her Studio One debut in 1962, with her older brother Alton. She had a long successful career working with numerous Jamaican producers such as Ken Lack, Niney The Observer, Gussie Clark, Prince Buster, Winston Riley, Bunny Lee and Prince Buster as well as making a set of killer recordings at Studio One. In 1969 she was voted Jamaica's top female vocalist. Philadelphia songwriters Thom Bell and Linda Creed originally wrote 'People Make The World Go Around' for the Stylistics.

Horace Andy was born Horace Hinds in 1951 and first came to record at Studio One in 1970. Clement Dodd quickly singled him out - his voice "sounding like a youth", the producer recalled - and within months recorded the classic 'Skylarking' album with the musical backing of the newly recruited in-house band The Soul Defenders (taking over from The Sound Dimension). 'Ain't No Sunshine' - one of many classic tracks recorded during this period - is a version of the original Bill Withers soul hit.

Back in 1966 the studio band at Brentford Road was the Soul Vendors (basically the reincarnation of The Skatalites, featuring Jackie Mittoo, Johnny Moore and Roland Alphonso). Their repertoire of instrumental classics such as 'Real Rock' and 'Swing Easy' (which improves on a theme from 'Fiddler On The Roof') is monumental - the foundation stone of reggae music.

During their time at Studio One, The Heptones were the most important vocal harmony group in Jamaica. Leroy Sibbles, Barry Llewellyn and Earl Morgan arrived in 1966 and over the next five years scored hit after hit. 'Choice Of Colours' is a musical match from heaven as the trio covers this classic Impressions song - composed by Curtis Mayfield - from 1969.

Most cuts here show versions amounting to more than covers. Prince Jazzbo's 'Fool For Love' is a DJ cut to Dawn Penn's evergreen 'You Don't Love Me (No No No)' itself a cover of the Memphis hit by Willie Cobb. Cornell Campbell's 'Ten To One' is a re-voicing of the original Studio One single by The Mad Lads - one of many vocal excursions over this original rhythm - covering another Curtis-penned hit for the Impressions, this time reaching back to 1964.

Curtis Mayfield is without a doubt the main soul influence for many reggae groups during the 1960s. As well as the tracks included here, Mayfield tunes such as 'Queen Majesty', 'You Don't Care', 'Gypsy Woman' became standards for any vocal harmony group on the island where his inspirational music and lyrics found a new audience. Another great Curtis Mayfield production was The Five Stairsteps and Cubie's 'Don't Change', here covered by Studio One soul man Winston Francis. Francis was born in Kingston but moved to Miami in 1964, where he first encountered soul music. After touring the US and Caribbean with other soul-reggae artists Derek Harriott, Boris Gardiner and Carlos Malcolm, Francis began to record for Studio One leading to the release of his 1970 album 'Mr Fix It', from which this track is taken.

An earlier Studio One artist who styled himself as a 'soul' singer was Tony Gregory. Gregory's update of the classic New Orleans tune, 'Get Out Of My Life, Woman', originally penned by Alan Toussaint and sung by Lee Dorsey, was one of his fifteen or so singles released in the mid-sixties by Clement Dodd on Studio One subsidiaries Forward, Coxsone, Supreme and Tee Gee (including two duets with one of Jamaica's biggest female stars, Marcia Griffiths).

Besides arranging many of the tracks here - and leading the band - Jackie Mittoo has three to his name. 'Choice Of Music' is the dub of his instrumental version of 'Choice Of Colours'; 'Jumpin' Jehosophat' is a previously unreleased cut of Senor Soul's version of Syl Johnson's 'Is It Because I'm Black' (featured on the first volume of Studio One Soul) and 'Fancy Pants' reworks and likewise renames Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On'.

In their Dub Specialist guise, Clement Dodd and in-house engineer Sylvan Morris contribute 'Darker Block' - a dub of Jackie Mittoo's 'Darker Shade Of Black', itself a cover of the Beatles' 'Norwegian Wood'.

The original 'Make Me Believe In You' appears on the essential Curtis Mayfield album 'Sweet Exorcist'. Devon Russell began his singing career in a group called The Tartans which included future Congoes' members Cedric Myton and Watty Burnett. In the mid-1970s Russell recorded with ex-Studio One singer and producer Lee Perry at his Black Ark Studios under the alias Devon Irons. Devon Russell was part of the 'third wave' of artists at Studio One, arriving at the end of the 1970s. His artistic debt to Curtis Mayfield is obvious: later he would release an album named 'Darker Than Blue', devoted entirely to the Chicagoan's compositions.

American singer Jerry Jones was invited by Clement Dodd to record at Studio One after she visited Jamaica to perform at the Regal Theatre, Kingston, in the late 1960s. Mr Dodd went on to produce a series of shows for the singer at the Hotel Kingston, and an album 'Live At Hotel Kingston' (actually recorded at Brentford Road). Les McCann and Eddie Harris's 'Compared To What' is a classic US soul jazz release with driving message-lyrics by Eugene McDaniels. Jones also released a version of the Four Tops classic 'Still Waters' in 1970 which is included on the first volume of Studio One Soul.

Little Joe grew up in the Waltham Park road area of West Kingston - childhood homes to such deejaying legends as Dillinger, Clint Eastwood, Trinity and Dennis Alcapone - and by age 13 he was working for the El Paso Soundsystem. He caught Coxsone's Downbeat soundsystem at nearby 35 Lane and two years later in 1974 auditioned at Studio One. He cut two singles there - 'Gun Court' and 'Red Robe', the latter riding ex-Termite Wentworth Vernal's 'Rainbow', itself a cover of a 1962 Gene Chandler song written by ..... Curtis Mayfield! Soon afterwards, Little Joe became Ranking Joe, embarking on a successful career working with numerous producers such as Bunny Lee, Joe Gibbs and Junjo Lawes.

Nobody in reggae sings with more conviction than Ken Boothe who gives us a moody rendition of a song originally by US soul singer Garnett Mimms (though his favourite was Wilson Picket).

As a drummer Anthony 'Benbow' Creary played on literally hundreds of Studio One releases, primarily as a member of the Soul Defenders alongside Vin Morgan, Bagga Walker and Cedric Brooks. 'Land Called Africa', however, is the only Studio One release bearing his name and carries a suitably criss-crossed pedigree to close with - putting Rasta inspired lyrics to the traditional 'House Of The rising Sun' made famous by The Animals.

 
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