Dimension - Mojo Rocksteady Beat (SJRCD 173- 2008)
Ten To Ten
In Cold Blood
Great Mu Ga Ru Ga
Welcome to our new collection of classic recordings from the funkiest group in the history of Reggae.
'Real Rock', 'Rockfort Rock', 'Heavy Rock', 'In cold Blood', 'Drum Song'... these are quite literally some of the most important songs in Reggae. Endlessly re-versioned, re-played, re-recorded, re-made by practically every artist, every producer, every musician and every studio in Jamaica consistently over the last 40 years they laid the foundation of Reggae music. And these classics were all created by one band - the Sound Dimension - at Studio One Records....
As the in-house band at Studio One in the late 1960s the Sound Dimension played alongside everyone from The Heptones, Alton Ellis, Ken Boothe, Marcia Griffiths and moor, creating rhythms and tunes on a daily basis.
The group took influences from everywhere and everything and consequently we must step outside the usual confines of Reggae to understand them fully. As house bands go, the Sound Dimension reigned supreme alongside their US Funk and Soul counterparts The Funk Brothers - at Motown - and Booker T & The MGs at Stax. The only rival to their throne in Jamaica would have to be Studio One's earlier all-star line-up of the Skatalites. Later Kingston based studio groups such as The Aggrovators/Professionals and The Roots Radics - working for producers such as Joe Gibbs, Bunny Lee and the Hookim Brothers (at Channel One) - made careers out of replaying these classic rhythms and melodies of the Sound Dimension (and the earlier Soul Vendors). The group's collective ability to make incredibly catchy melodies and funky rhythms - the basis of hundreds of hits for Sir Coxsone Dodd, and thousands more by imitators - is matched be a seamless musicality that led to sophisticated arrangements and heavy soloing, mirroring the work of the Jazz musicians in the USA working daily at studios like Prestige, Blue Note and Riverside. What else can we hear in this music? Touches of Fela Kuti's band at the Shrine in Lagos, Nigeria? The in-house Tico and Fania Latin Nuyorican maestros? Funky New Orleans and Caribbean poly-rhythms?
Tie all this in with the unique musical lineage of Studio One - and indeed of Jamaican music - and you begin to get an idea of the importance of the group; this is before we even begin to mention the versioning and re-versioning that has followed ever since in the wake of the group's recordings.
The Sound Dimension existed from around 1967-70 and for a band with a fluid line-up they had an amazingly consistent sound, laying down classic rhythms for the singers of the day at Studio One as well as stretching out with their own recordings. Check out the amazing trombone solos of Vin Gordon, rightly re-named 'Don Drummond Jnr' by Sir Coxsone, honouring both the musical abilities of the young Gordon, and that of his forerunner in the Skatalites and ex-Alpha Boys teacher, Don Drummond. Gordon first joined the studio aged 15 - from Alpha - and his first solo on record is 'Real Rock'! His sparring partner in the group would usually be saxophonist Deadly Headley Bennett.
The Sound Dimension featured a unique combination of musicians from different backgrounds such as the original Jazz big bands on the island or players from the north coast hotel music scene; listen to 'Park View' and hear the two unique styles of Eric 'Rickenbacker' Frater, with his fuzz-box lead guitar, duelling with the Jazz virtuosity of fellow guitarist Ernest Ranglin.
When Jackie Mittoo officially emigrated to Canada in 1968 (although often continuing to return to Jamaica and Studio One for sessions), keyboard duties were supplied by the equally funky Richard Ace or Robbie Lyn. With few solo recordings to their credit these two names have remained lost in history but here we salute them. On bass we could be listening to Brian Atkinson AKA Bassie (even though technically he left at the end of the groups earlier incarnation - The Soul Brothers), or the great Heptones' vocalist Leroy Sibbles, moonlighting as new in-house bassist after being taught from scratch by Jackie Mittoo.
None of this can explain the importance of this music. 'Real Rock', 'Mojo Rocksteady', 'Rockfort Rock', 'Drum Song', 'In Cold Blood' - these classic songs are a thousand times better known than the musicians who originally created them. Played and re-played by every house band for every producer on the island, these iconic rhythms became the basis for dancehall and laid the foundations for the future of Jamaican music.
This album can be seen as a companion to the earlier Sound Dimension release 'Jamaica Soul shake' and together these two albums make a unique and definitive document of a seriously important set of recordings.
Make way for the originals!
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