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At long last Soul Jazz release a Studio One Rocksteady compilation.........
on 6 February 2014
It has been a long time coming but the excellent Soul Jazz record label have finally released a peak period Studio One rocksteady compilation and whilst not quite flawless it is still mighty fine. There are classics galore on this set from legendary Jamaican artists like Alton Ellis ("Hurting Me"), The Heptones ("Party Time" & "Love Won't Come Easy"), Ken Boothe ("Moving Away"), Larry Marshall ("Throw Mi Corn"), Carlton & His Shoes ("Me And You") and John Holt (the bracingly non-PC "Fancy Make Up"). The aforementioned are all classic rocksteady tracks. There are also gems from Cecile Campbell ("Whisper To Me"), The Classics ("Pack Up" which is actually by The Wailing Souls as Winston 'Pipe' Matthews distinctive vocals cut through the mix), The Gaylads who harmonise beautifully on the soulful "Joy In The Morning" and Marcie Griffiths (the punchy "My Ambition").
The Wailing Souls appear a second time with the superb "Row Fisherman Row" but it has to be said that this tune isn't really rocksteady being more early reggae (coming out in 1970; two years after the end of rocksteady). Dennis Brown is present and correct with the rare "Easy Take It Easy" (also from 1970) in slightly rough sound quality but this is made up by this being a brilliant track with the rhythm providing the basis for the (much) later classic "Babylon Too Rough" by Gregory Isaacs. Jackie Mittoo is represented by "Our Thing" which is a version of The Sound Dimension's "Heavy Rock" but unfortunately with rather weak interjections from an unnamed DJ. The Eternals featuring the distinctive vocals of Cornell Campbell are featured on the ace "Stars" but sadly the sound quality here is off-puttingly bad with pronounced hiss and even some crackle throughout with the track sounding distressingly like a needle-drop (this is strange since I have this track on a Studio One Cornell Campbell compilation from the '90's in much better sound).
Therefore in conclusion a more than welcome (and much overdue) compilation of the peerless peak period of the great Studio One label. Whilst there are a few flaws (rough sound quality on a couple of tracks) and one suspect choice (the Jackie Mittoo track; just sticking on "Heavy Rock" would have been a better idea) overall this is without doubt one of the best editions of the largely fantastic series of Soul Jazz Studio One compilations ----- now how about a volume 2?