Sound Dimension

Jamaica Soul Shake, Vol. 1

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Behind a very generic band name -- which saluted an echo box used often in their recordings -- lurks some of the best rocksteady-into-reggae music ever recorded. To understate the case, Sound Dimension was simply the band put together in 1967 to accompany some of Studio 1's most famous artists: John Holt, Alton Ellis, the Heptones, Ken Boothe, and others. That fact alone makes them important enough; the fact that the group included most of the great Jamaican musicians that had emerged around the time Don Drummond went to jail makes them even more important. Sound Dimension was a loose collective indeed, but it often included Jackie Mittoo, Leroy Sibbles, Eric Frater, Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace, Ernest Ranglin, and Roland Alphonso, among the best at their respective instruments that reggae has ever seen. (Several had played with Drummond in the Skatalites before the group dissolved upon his imprisonment.) The Soul Jazz collection Jamaica Soul Shake, Vol. 1 collects 16 instrumentals (or near-instrumentals) that had previously ranged from rare to untraceable -- these are not the singles the band served on as session men, nor are they exactly the "versions" they recorded for the B-sides. These are loose studio jams of their own composition (Mittoo's name appears often as a composer), and they have the laid-back, summery feel of prime Jackie Mittoo. Also like Mittoo's "solo" recordings, these are dark and brooding, closer to the gritty roots sound that would soon flower in reggae than the sweeter sound of soul-influenced rocksteady.

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