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Various Artists (2001)

Soul Jazz SJR CD48

Real Rock (Sound Dimension); Feel Like Jumping (Marcia Griffiths); Bobby Bobylon (Freddie McGregor); Skylarking (Horace Andy); Village Soul (Lennie Hibbert); Greedy G (Brentford All Stars); Truth And Rights (Johnny Osbourne); Surfin (Ernest Ranglin); Eye Of Danger (Michigan & Smiley); No, No, No (Dawn Penn); Phoenix City (Skatalites); Crabwalking (Prince Jazzbo); Hot Milk (Jackie Mittoo); Badder Dan Dem (Lone Ranger); Ethiopia (Cedric Brooks)

I've been waiting a long time for this (it was first scheduled for release in November 2000), but now that it's arrived I can't help feeling somewhat disappointed. Don't get me wrong, this is an excellent (although somewhat arbitrary) compilation of some of the strongest Studio One material, and no doubt will prove to be a very good introduction to anyone not familiar with the Brentford Road sound. But there is not much here for the collector, as most of these tracks have been reissued umpteen times before (only Crabwalking, Badder Dan Dem and Ethiopia see release on CD for the first time).

Reviews in the general music press have been consistently favourable, so I suppose Soul Jazz must be congratulated on their efforts to spread the word. Packaging is up to usual standards with the CD case enclosed in a cardboard sleeve and including a 40 page illustrated booklet. The booklet features a rare and lengthy interview with Mr Dodd (very interesting) - but nothing else. If this is intended as an introduction to the delights of Studio One then the casual listener is going to be hard pressed to discover where to go from here. There is no information about individual artists, the tracks themselves, or what albums they are taken from. A missed opportunity, for sure.

If anyone reading this wants a good introduction to the music of Studio One then they can do no better than pick up a copy of Heartbeat's excellent RESPECT TO STUDIO ONE compilation, which will at least lead them gently on to further discoveries, albeit all from the Heartbeat catalogue.

Soul Jazz seem to have struck a good deal with Mr Dodd, as this is their second full scale collaboration with Studio One following last year's KEYBOARD KING showcase. Let's just hope that if this partnership continues Mr Dodd will let them explore a more imaginative selection of tracks to release next time.

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