Archive for Studio One

Mikey Dread – Friend & Money (1978)

Posted in Dennis Brown, Joe Gibbs, Mikey Dread, Studio One with tags , , , on May 15, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage


“Although he did record quite a few tracks in the Joe Gibbs studio, Michael Campbell, (1952 – 2008) better known as Mikey Dread, did not release much of his tracks through any of Joe’s imprints. ‘Friend and money’ is the only one I’m aware of, actually. The song was released on 7″ in 1978 on the Errol T label, riding an update of the ‘Money in my pocket’ riddim which is, well to me personally anyway, more interesting than the toast itself. Although not half bad – it is actually pretty good in its own right – ‘Friend and Money’ suffers a bit from the stiff competition put up by other epic Mikey Dread tracks out there. It’s a great catch as a supplement to your existing collection, but it won’t stand out as the best track in there. That said, this Mikey Dread track is still highly enjoyable for its lyrics, the familiar nasal sound of Mikeys voice and the great riddim update that The Professionals laid down for this take. This track was also released on the ‘Original DJ Classics Vol 2 sampler (lp), that was released on the Rocky One imprint in the 1990’s. Being an avid funk fan as much as I am a reggae fan, I can not deny the influence one scene has on another, and on this 7″ right here, things merge beautifuly and splendidly. A sound commonly heard in the late 70’s funk/disco era was the tweaked and flanged-out sound of the Fender Rhodes and that sound, or a hint towards it at least, can also be heard on the flip of this Mikey Dread single. ‘Bubbler in Money’ is nothing short of a pure funk anthem. One that should easily be able to satisfy fans of, for instance, Larry Youngs’ ‘Turn off the lights or the Ohio Players’ ‘Funky Worm.’ This keyboard heavy sound was recorded and utilized more often at the Gibbs studios in the late 70’s and early 80’s, many of which can be found on the ‘Majestic Dub album, which is, sadly, not as majestic as the title suggests. It’s an album worthwhile checking out for some impressive versions that add some to the more common and familiar styles and versions out there. Why they didn’t include ‘Bubbler in Money’ on there shall forever remain a mystery though. It’s the best version in that particular style they got…”
Pressure Beat (Video)
YouTube: Mikey Dread & Dennis Brown – Friend & Money

Joseph Hill (as Prince Mohammed) – Informer + Version (1977)

Posted in Culture, Errol Thompson, Joe Gibbs, Studio One with tags , , , on February 6, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

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“In just a few years after its birth, the reggae sound has changed face more times than Cher did in two decades. Reggay from 1968 and reggae from, say, 1976 are worlds apart, yet it is always identified as reggae. Of course that’s because the basis is always the same and it’s toying with what’s on top of that footing that makes it sound different. Taking the Jamaican music scene in mind – almost fully based in Kingston, evolving around a few key players and in constant search of inspiration, innovation and progress – it makes perfect sense that reggae was always in motion. Just look at dub, for instance; a truly unique sound that was borne from sheer creativity. It has many founding fathers, all of whom took the idea and transformed it into something else completely – shaking up the entire music world in the process. Or take the art of toasting – also the fruit of creativity, cross pollination and ‘out of the box’ thinking – which was strictly a yard thing before some smart producers, like Keith Hudson, took the deejays in and recorded them on wax. Unleashing a whole a new spectrum of opportunities, styles and ideas.

In a music scene where being unparalleled makes you stand out from the crowd, you’ve got to trod barren land. If that means dragging a bike in the studio, like Hudson did, creating new drum patterns or relicking old riddims: it’s all part in the evolution of reggae.  Thus, it also makes perfect sense for artists to try their hand at something new. Something fresh. Like deejays trying to sing, drummers acting as a bassie or singers who take a shot at riding a riddim. It’s a favourite topic and a popular game among reggae fans: to name the songs by singers or deejays in which they switch trades.  The obvious ones always come up first, like George Nooks who is also known as Prince Mohammed; Scotty, who sang with The Federals and The Chosen Few before drawing his breaks and start over, riddling his way into a blossoming career as a deejay; Doctor Alimentado, who sang a heartfelt tribute to being alive after severely crashing his bike and spending a long time in the hospital; and Big Youth, who started singing after his deejay career had made him a superstar. The less obvious ones can win you the game, like Dennis Brown, John Holt, Horsemouth Wallace, Alton Ellis and Joseph Hill.

Starting out as a percussionist with Studio One band Soul Defenders, Joseph Hill eventually took up the mic and recorded a solo effort  in 1972. By 1976 Joseph Hill was no longer performing at Studio One, but had teamed up with Albert Walker and Kenneth Dayes (and possibly a fourth member) and had formed a group called The African Disciples – a militant group of devout rastafarians who conveyed the lessons and beliefs of Marcus Garvey in almost every song they wrote. Strongly based on Burning Spear’s style, they found themselves hanging around the Joe Gibbs camp – by then a leading producer. Legend has it they were quite reluctant to record, but Blacka Morwell convinced them to do it anyway and also persuaded them to change their name. Despite singing about heavy topics such as religion, protest and sufferation, Culture broke through big time when they recorded songs like Two Sevens Clash and See Them a come. The songwriting skills of Hill, the magic of Errol Thompson on the board and the craftmanship of the Professionals struck a chord with reggae fans all over the world and was instrumental in marrying punk with roots reggae.

Despite bearing a credit to Prince Mohammed (again) the deejay version of See them a come is obviously not recorded by Prince Mohammed. One thing that truly set Culture apart from the rest was Jospeh Hill’s unique timbre – a tad nasal, crystal clear and second to none. It’s the same timbre that is on display on ‘Informer’ and if it’s not that, than surely the lyrics must give away that it is indeed mister Hill testing his skills as a deejay here. Although slightly loosing track every now and then, he’s doing a good job. A strong believer in the power of music and passionate by nature, Joseph Hill sounds comfortable and delivers with ‘Informer’ a heavy, militant, fun and upbeat rockers tune. Indeed, the exact same ingredients that made Culture so great a reggae group.  Well, that and a top class Sound Dimension riddim of course. Joseph Hill would take up the deejay mic again when Culture left Gibbs for Sonia Pottinger and recorded Production Something, which, needless to say, again sounds different from what’s on display here. After all, it’s reggae, you know?”
Pressure Beat (Video)

Discogs

YouTube: Joseph Hill (as Prince Mohammed) – Informer + Version

Alton Ellis – Mad Mad (1967)

Posted in Alton Ellis, Coxsone Dodd, Studio One with tags , , on January 28, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

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“With an exuberant blast of brass, ‘Mad Mad’ surged into the sound systems in 1967 to eventually become one of Studio One’s most beloved riddims. Intricately arranged by Jackie Mittoo, the song was not one of the label’s typically lavish rocksteady fare. For starters, the melody line was slighter and far less lush than usual, while the chorus didn’t actually jog with the verses. However, Mittoo made it work regardless, building the arrangement around a compulsive rhythm, jangling cowbell and the song’s signature brass line, all offset only by Mittoo’s own sparkling piano…and Alton Ellis’s soulful vocals abetted by the warm harmonies, of course. … It was a particular favorite of Junjo Lawes, who scored big with the song’s most popular version, Michigan & Smiley’s ‘Diseases’, and continues to be versioned to this day.”
allmusic
YouTube: Mad Mad / Diseases (Alton Ellis, Michigan & Smiley)

“Simmer Down” – The Skatalites (1963)

Posted in Bob Marley and the Wailers, Coxsone Dodd, Peter Tosh, Ska, Studio One with tags , , , , on December 27, 2016 by 1960s: Days of Rage

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“‘Simmer Down’ was the first single released by The Wailers, accompanied by the ska supergroup, The Skatalites, and produced by Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd in 1963. It was the number one hit in Jamaica in February, 1964. The song was directed to the ‘Rude Boys’ of the ghettos of Jamaica at the time, sending them a message to cool down or ‘Simmer Down’ with all the violence and crime going on in Kingston. The subject matter of ‘Simmer Down’ made The Wailers stand out amongst their contemporaries. The Wailers at this time contained Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Junior Braithwaite, Cherry Smith, and Beverley Kelso. It was Bob Marley’s first hit and his career as a songwriter and performer took off from there. Although ‘Simmer Down’ was a hit, Peter Tosh, one of the three original Wailers, has said in an interview that he hated it.”
Wikipedia

“The Skatalites are a ska band from Jamaica. They played initially between 1963 and 1965, and recorded many of their best known songs in the period, including ‘Guns of Navarone.’ They also played on records by Prince Buster and backed many other Jamaican artists who recorded during that period.[1] They reformed in 1983 and have played together ever since.The founders of the Skatalites were Tommy McCook (died 1998), Rolando Alphonso (died 1998), Lloyd Brevett (died 2012), Lloyd Knibb (died 2011), Don Drummond (died 1969), Jah Jerry Haynes (died 2007), Jackie Mittoo (died 1990), Johnny Moore (died 2008) and Jackie Opel (died 1970). These ten musicians started to play together from 1955, when Kingston’s recording studios started to develop. Tommy McCook was the first member of the band to record, though not for commercial release: he played with Don Hitchman’s Group in 1953. In spring 1964, The Skatalites recorded their first LP Ska Authentic at Studio One in Kingston and toured Jamaica as the creators of ska. …”
The Skatalites – Simmer down

YouTube: Simmer down, I Don’t Need Your Love

Dennis Brown & Superstar Friends – Reggae Legends

Posted in Coxsone Dodd, Dennis Brown, Studio One with tags , , on November 19, 2016 by 1960s: Days of Rage

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“Dennis Brown, born 1st February 1957, was a child star in Jamaica after recording the Van Dykes song ‘No Man Is An Island’ for Studio One in 1970. Besides recording albums for Coxsone Dodd he worked with numerous producers who all acknowledged his incredible talent. Joe Gibbs and Niney the Observer recorded extensive and highly successful material with the vocalist, Sly & Robbie & Derrick Harriott amongst others also benefited from his talents and vice versa. He established his own DEB label in 1978 and (self-)produced various roots classics before the label folded in 1979. For his impressive voice, countless hits and widely acknowledged credibility he was nicknamed the Crown Prince of Reggae. After dancehall music became more popular than roots reggae he also scored hits during the eighties. In the mid 90’s his health got worse due to a drug addiction, his shining moments got more sparse and in 1999 he died because of a collapsed longue. His legacy is one of the biggest catalogues in reggae history. …”
Reggae Vibes
Discogs
amazon
YouTube: DENNIS BROWN & SUPERSTAR FRIENDS (REGGAE LEGENDS) 1:30:45

Culture & Prince Mohammed – Zion Gate – Forty Leg Dread (1977)

Posted in Culture, DJ, Dub, Joe Gibbs, Studio One with tags , , , , on October 21, 2016 by 1960s: Days of Rage

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“Culture updates the Paragons’ classic Studio One rocksteady anthem ‘My satisfaction‘ and turn it into a real roots reggae ‘n rockers tune. The superb ‘Zion Gate’ owes a lot to its blueprint, but both Joseph Hill and Lloyd’s Parks’ Professionals add enough of their own to mold it into something truly unique. So much so, in fact, that the tune inspired a whole series of next cuts, still going on well into the 2000’s, all bearing ‘Zion Gate’ as name for the riddim, rather than ‘My satisfaction.’ …”
Pressure Beat
Discogs
YouTube: Culture & Prince Mohammed – Zion Gate – Forty Leg Dread, Joe Gibbs & The Professionals – Zion Rock

Horace Andy – In the Light/In the Light Dub (1995)

Posted in Dub, Horace Andy, Studio One with tags , , on September 8, 2016 by 1960s: Days of Rage

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“Regarded as one of reggae’s most distinctive voices, vocalist Horace Andy had wild success early on with his career-defining single ‘Skylarking’ as well as a host of other hits. As far as full-length statements are concerned, Andy’s 1977 album In the Light may be his strongest. The album’s ten tracks found Andy’s quivering vocals floating in a dreamlike tension above tightly wound rocksteady rhythms, looming darkly on pensive tracks like ‘Problems’ (a tune that revisits the burning bassline from one of Andy’s earlier hits, ‘Mr. Bassie’), exploding on fun jaunts like ‘Do You Love My Music,’ and lingering meditatively on the lighthearted anthem of self-awareness and cultural pride that is the title track. Understated synthesizers and a simmering rock & roll-minded production denote the evolution roots reggae was undergoing year to year by the late ’70s, showing up on the especially swaggering ‘Collie Herb. … Skillfully remastered and even stronger with both originals and dubs occupying the same space, In the Light/In the Light Dub is a triumph of roots reggae and a necessary chapter for anyone even remotely enthusiastic about Jamaican music and culture, especially at this critical point of reggae’s evolution in the late ’70s.”
allmusic
“Now re-released some 18 years after their initial pressing on the late Everton DaSilva’s Hungry Town label and having been unavilable for well over a decade, these two albums are truly forgotten classics of the reggae music. At the time they were recorded, Horace was 27 years old and had just relocated to New York, where DaSilva was also based. Undoubtedly he was at the peak of his career, having debuted for producer Phil Pratt in 1966 before exploding onto the scene with a string of unforgettable tunes for the likes of Studio One, Derrick Harriot, Leonard ‘Santic’ Chin, Keith Hudson and of course Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee among others. Despite residing in America Horace was still freelancing and recording at Channel One in Kingston on a regular basis, and these sessions feature some of Jamaica’s finest musicians in the shape of Augustus Pablo, Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace and Former Heptone Leroy Sibbles. The overall sound is rich and dense, the crunching rhythms enhanced by magnificent sprays of horns and occasionaly (as on the opening ‘Do You Love My Music) biting lead guitar. …”
Blood and Fire
Spotify
YouTube: In The Light + Dub, Prince Jammy – Government Dub, Government Land + Dub, Rome, Do You Love My Music