Various Artists - Studio One Roots Vol 3
Soul Jazz - #SJRLP 168 & SJRCD 168 - August 24, 2007
More Roots Killers Out Of Studio One
Reviewed by MightyZ on September 10, 2007
Studio One was always one of the front line players during the Ska and Rock Steady years. It is also well known for its development of young artists and for the origination of many riddims which became dancehall classics. What is often overlooked is the wealth of early roots reggae from the studio and its deep connection with the Rastafarian movement. This series of albums tries to highlight some of the fine roots music from Studio One and also, through wonderfully comprehensive sleeve notes, it tells the story of how the music of the Rastafarian drummers influenced the whole development of the music we know and love. The sleeve notes set the scene by explaining how the early Rastas learned their drumming style from the Burru drummers in Jamaica, descendants of the Ashanti tribe.
From the late 1950's Coxsone Dodd would travel to the Wareika Hills to hear Count Ossie and his drummers. It is notable that several key members of the Skatalites, including Tommy McCook, Don Drummond, Johnny 'Dizzy' Moore and Lloyd Knibb would also attend these sessions, jamming along with the drummers. You can get some idea of how this may have sounded from two tracks on the compilation that utilise the Burru style drumming. Cedric Im Brooks and Count Ossie's 'So Long Babylon Calling and Dub Specialist' and 'Musical Science' go some way to showing how the Burru influenced Rasta drums helped to shape the development of early Ska and ultimately Roots Reggae beats. It is one of the key ingredients which begins to distinguish the Jamaican styles from the American R&B from which Ska also drew huge influence. 'Musical Science' may have been issued in 1975, but the horns sound on it is evocative of the Skatalites style from the 60's. For me, this track paints a picture of what it may have been like if you were fortunate enough to have been at Wareika Hill listening to these guys!
If you were in any doubt, this album shows that Studio One does roots as well as anyone else. Of course, Coxsone's studio puts its own special sound to the roots genre. Haunting reverbs on the voice and that slightly muffled 'old time' sound give the music on this album a really authentic ghetto sound – it's real roots reggae!
The compilation opens with Freddie McKay in fine form with '(I'm) a Free Man', followed by a classic offering from Jennifer Lara 'A Change is Gonna Come'. This fine start is marred slightly by some wayward vocals on the third track 'Oppression' by Alton and Zoot. This, however, is followed by many fine tracks which soon get the roots train firmly back on the rails. I particularly enjoyed Winston Flames 'In a Armigideon', a haunting dub of the well known classic. The Gladiators 'Re Arrange' is another stand out track, a hard hitting riddim with one of Jamaica's finest harmony groups. How could that not be good? The album finishes with probably one of the best tracks on the compilation, Judah Eskender Tafari's 'Jah Light'. The vocal production on this track gives it a quality not unlike the Bullwackie sound. It's a lovely easy riddim with a vocal track that is spot on. What a nice way to finish!
If you have read this far then I'm guessing you are not looking for hi tech raggamuffin reggae, It's the rough and ready roots sound of Studio One that is more your kind of thing. In which case, I recommend you add this album to your collection.
MightyZ - Roots Archives, September 2007
Edited by Leggo Rocker