The last couple of years have seen a huge resurgence in vinyl sales which seems to still be gathering momentum, there is also no reason to think that CDs are about to become obsolete as quality releases in both formats continue to appear. Happily the majors and the independent companies alike show no sign of letting up with their re-issue programmes. The following is a brief survey of some of my recent acquisitions.
Taking pride of place at the top of the pile is the Burning Spear classic ‘Social Living’. Released on CD some months ago, this long overdue vinyl re-issue came as a complete surprise to me. Handsomely jacketed in a gatefold sleeve, which features the original Island artwork, and houses the two LPs (like the CD this release also features its Dub counterpart ‘Living Dub’). The sleeve-notes and additional photographs are reproduced inside. I am unable to find confirmation that these are pressed in 180g vinyl but the package, like the music, is very heavy. Neither does the album appear to form part of the Back to Black series. However is does include a free mp3 download version of the album.
The Hot Milk label has also returned with some first class material, a slew of 12” singles collated from both the recent Linval Thompson produced ‘Strong like Samson’ double CD, and the Mr. Spaulding set. All are well presented in generic sleeves and a pastiche copy of the original label artwork. Needless to say the sound quality is superb.
A one-away five track 10” from Fatman Studio sees a glorious re-issue of Badoo’s seminal ‘Rocking of the 5,000’, an early Dancehall hit from Channel One over the old Studio 1 ‘Drum Song’ rhythm, and complimented with dubs and toasts by Ranking Toyan and Jah Stitch.
Dub Store Records from Japan continue to go from strength to strength with several series now running concurrently. Their Prince Jammy’s Dub collection continues to issue tracks many of which were previously sound system exclusives now getting their first official release. Clifton Henry’s Stereo One label is a new series sourcing material from the digital era, along with Half Pint’s classic ‘Greetings’ for George Phang’s Power House imprint. As well as the digital age the early ska years continue to be represented by Federal records, whose latest pair of singles feature four excellent (and previously unknown to me at least) tracks by The Cavalliers. It transpires that this is the name taken by The Skatalites when they were moonlighting away from Justin Yap’s Top Deck, and Clement Dodd’s Studio One labels.
Also from Japan, curtesy of Rock-A-Shaka come a couple of Alton Ellis self-productions in the form of two 7” singles, with all sides taken from his eponymous album for the same company. These releases maintain the company’s high reputation in all areas of the reggae genre and it must be hoped we have more output from this label.
Finally a brace of singles from New York’s Digikiller featuring two Clive Matthews’ productions on his own Fox Fire label, which again features Channel One dancehall rhythm’s. These form a very small part of the huge cache of 80’s Channel One productions that Digikiller has acquired the rights to. It is to their great credit that they undertake meticulous research into the provenance and owner/author-ship, and the often chequered history, of these obscure tracks and their dubs and dubplate versions, many of which prove to be previously unknown gems and nuggets.