Various Studio One Disco Mix

Sometimes Soul Jazz’s themes for Studio One compilations are a bit sketchy — not so here. The late ’70s disco mix era is an overlooked period of Studio One’s history. Their days as the pre-eminent force in reggae were done, but the rhythms lived on, re-recorded by rival studios with no royalties flowing back to label boss Coxsone Dodd. His answer was overdub new parts onto the original rhythms of the label’s ’60s and early-’70s hits, expanding them well beyond their three- and four-track origins into extended versions accommodated by the then-new twelve-inch single format. The liner notes quite rightly state that Dodd was unrestricted by any one style, and was able to pick and mix musical ideas with great freedom. Probably the most famous example of this practice was Willie Williams’ "Armagideon Time,” which updated a 12-year-old rocksteady groove. Whereas solos or vocal performances were often one-take affairs in the early days, Alton Ellis had more time to refine his vocals on Blood Sweat and Tears’ "You Make Me So Very Happy,” which improves on his own original. Jackie Mittoo’s armada of synths and organs was tailor made for overdubbing, and he stretches out on the searing "Night in Ethiopia”. There isn’t a dull track on this set; Soul Jazz has done an excellent job in giving this era its due. (Soul Jazz)