Ernest Ranglin

Sounds and Power

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Ernest Ranglin has been at the center of Jamaican music for at least a half century, and his clean, Wes Montgomery-like guitar lines have been central to the formation of the ska, rocksteady, roots and dub genres. Much like Motown's Funk Brothers in Detroit, Ranglin and fellow session musicians like organist Jackie Mittoo, trombonist Vin Gordon, and sax players Cedric Brooks and Roland Alphonso, brought a jazz sensibility to the floor as the house band for producer Coxsone Dodd's legendary Studio One recording facility in Kingston in the mid- to late- 1960s and early 1970s. The backing tracks this loose confederation created at Studio One are some of the most famous and versioned in all of reggae, and Sounds and Power finds Ranglin adding lead lines over the top of some of these in a long overdue compilation. The result is a wonderful hybrid of classic rocksteady and jazz. Ranglin has flirted with variations on some of these rhythms in his many albums, but what makes this outing so interesting and unique is that here he is working with the original recordings. Highlights include "Sound and Power" (a version of the Heptones' "Soul Power"), "West of the Sun," "Lee Arab," and "Major Walk" (a rendering of Burning Spear's "Pick Up the Pieces"). Another striking track here is a version of the Four Tops' "Still Waters" that features Monty Alexander on melodica. Mittoo, Brooks and Alphonso have all done similar albums working with the original Studio One rhythms, and taken together with this one, they form a wonderful testament to the most formative musicians in the history of Jamaican music.

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