Prolific reggae producer Clive Chin ranks as one of Jamaican music's greatest unsung heroes. While working at the family business, Randy's Record Store and the crucial studio upstairs, Randy's Studio 17, Chin oversaw seminal recordings by the '70s top reggae performers and producers: the Wailers, Tommy McCook, Alton Ellis, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Lee Perry and Black Uhuru. From 1969, when it opened, Randy's Studio 17 became a focal point of Jamaican music, with the studio booked non-stop. Working with innovative engineer Errol Thompson, a teenaged Clive Chin laid down thick bass and drum rhythms which became a signature of the roots reggae, dub and rebel rock/rockers sounds. Music personnel flocked to Randy's to get the rich bass sound and full sonic image on their songs. Rough Guide to Reggae author Steve Barrow put it this way, "You have to say that hands-down Randy's was the studio from 1969-75 in Jamaica." To back it up, Barrow has commissioned many reissues of material recording at Randy's and under Clive Chin's watch on the Blood and Fire label. Clive Chin was at the eye of this hurricane of activity, producing many records and picking up tips from the likes of Lee "Scratch" Perry and Tommy McCook. Chin first rose to prominence by producing a record for a classmate Horace Swaby, a.k.a. Augustus Pablo. This record, Java, became a slow burning international sensation with its Eastern motif played on the melodica. LPs followed, namely This Is Augustus Pablo and Java Java Dub, which elaborated on the rhythmic achievements of the single. Another of his biggest hits on the British National Chart was "Fatty Bum, Bum" by Carl Malcolm. Ultimately, these halcyon days came to an abrupt end in 1978, as the Chin family closed shop and relocated to New York, where the record operation was renamed V.P. Records, today, the largest reggae distributor in North America. Distanced from the scene, Chin spent much of the '80s helping the family to run a new business, a Jamaican restaurant in Queens. As of 1998, Clive Chin has begun to produce records again, and it will be refreshing to hear new work in the '90s from this producing legend. Underappreciated, largely due to the longstanding unavailability stateside of even the milestone productions of Chin's career, a spate of reissues has brought Chin's productions to the light of day once again. Key among these are the compilations 17 North Parade (Pressure Sounds 17) and Forward the Bass (Blood and Fire) which features theImpact All Stars, a band including rhythm masters Aston Familyman Barret and Sly Dunbar. More reissues from the golden period are on the way, promising releases of full length records by the Gladiators, Bob Marley & the Wailers and Dennis Brown. Perhaps the wrinkles of time will one day be ironed out and Chin given his due, but for the time being the truth remains in the grooves.
Share this page