Various Artists

Six the Hard Way

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Clement Dodd's Studio One has been called Jamaica's Motown, and the parallels are many. Dodd's studio was the first black-owned recording facility on the island, and it is impossible to imagine modern Jamaican music without it, since every singer of note seemingly got their start there, and the simple but durable rhythms Dodd oversaw are absolute ground zero for every musical style that has swept Jamaica since, from ska through to the latest dancehall phase. This fun mini-anthology is essentially a sampler for six of Dodd's rocksteady and early reggae artists, and while nothing here is big, bold or flashy, these tracks underscore the timeless strengths of Studio One productions. Included are tracks by the great Slim Smith (one of Jamaica's finest ever voices), Larry Marshall (whose "Nanny Goat" was arguably the first true reggae side), the Termites (the harmony duo of Wentworth Vernal and Lloyd Parks), the impressive Willie Williams (whose striking and dub-inflected "Armagideon Time" was covered by the Clash on their 1980 Black Market Clash album), and a pair of vintage Jamaican harmony trios, the Cables (Keble Drummand, Elbert Stewart and Vincent Stoddart) and the Viceroys (Wesley Tinglin, Linval Williams and Daniel Bernard). It's fun stuff, backed by those vintage Studio One rhythms, which really can't be beat.

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