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Studio One Soul
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  • Liner Note Author: Mark Ainley.
  • Recording information: Jamaica Recording Studio, Kingston, Jamaica.
  • London's Soul Jazz Records continued to make their bid in the reggae reissue market with the release of this 2001 compilation. Following the success of 100% Dynamite, and its subsequent volumes, came this collection from Coxsone Dodd's Studio One catalog. One of the big three producers, Dodd was among the first entrepreneurs to establish himself in the Jamaican recording business. He did so largely by covering popular R&B hits from the United States. Though subsequent efforts mutated into the island's own ska, rocksteady, and reggae, the sounds of Motown and Stax remained widely popular. Spanning reggae's first three eras, Studio One Soul features some of Dodd's finest acts versioning hits by the biggest names in U.S. soul. Following takes on "Express Yourself," "Respect," and "Time Is Tight" comes the first real gem: the Heptones' "Message from a Black Man." Along with Senior Soul's "Is It Because I'm Black," the song points the way to reggae's own version of African American pride: roots. It takes the collection a while to build up steam again. In the meantime, Jackie Mittoo makes his mark, turning out a solo on "I'll Be Around" that's more exciting than the Otis Gayle vocal, and Richard Ace oozes exquisitely restrained soul on "Can't Get Enough." The majority of the highlights are to be found on the second half. The Sound Dimension back the sublime vocals of the Chosen Few on "Don't Break Your Promise," Ken Boothe's extended mix of "Set Me Free" and the Senior Soul cut with deep reggae grooves: the new music granting the band proper space to display their skills. Though the earlier material fails to dig as deep, there's hardly a track here that won't bring a smile to your lips. ~ Nathan Bush
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