Jackie Mittoo / The Soul Brothers

Last Train to Skaville

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After the Skatalites disbanded in the mid-'60s, Jamaican producer Clement Dodd brought in several of the group's members as the house band for his Studio One facility, teaming them with some of the younger musicians he had discovered. The Soul Brothers, as the in-house group was initially called, were led by keyboardist, arranger, and soul master Jackie Mittoo and the equally as talented tenor sax player Roland Alphonso. Officially, this configuration recorded for Dodd between 1965 and 1967, churning out hundreds of the now-trademark Studio One-styled rhythms that Dodd would use as backing tracks for his singing artists. Often, though, Mittoo, Alphonso, and company got to cut loose and create their own instrumentals over the rhythms, and several of these delightful sides are collected here. Recorded just as ska was giving way to the deeper, slower rhythms of rocksteady, tracks like the skipping and rolling "Train to Skaville" (which isn't really ska at all, although it shows up repeatedly on ska collections in the Ethiopians' vocal version), the push and pull feel of "Take Ten," the ragged yet sure "Chicken and Booze," and the infectiously bubbly "Home Made" are closer to being a kind of unique Jamaican version of soul-jazz than anything else (compare the one vocal track here, "Got My Boogaloo," to Jimmy Smith's version of "Got My Mojo Working" to hear how close to American soul-jazz this stuff really is). Whatever the label, it's all pure fun, and durable, as these incredible rhythms continue to be versioned well into the 21st century.

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