Various Artists

Studio One Soul, Vol. 2

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The second installment exploring the strong influence of American soul on Jamaican reggae in the 1960s and '70s, this wonderful set dips into the rich vaults of Clement Dodd's famous Studio One recording facility, and while it clearly shows the soul roots of the tracks collected here, it also works independently as a marvelous sequence of reggae gems even without that deeper angle. Included here are such stunners as Ken Boothe's "Thinking," based on the song by American soul singer Garnet Mimms, Jacob Miller's "Westbound Train," written by Dennis Brown off the rhythm for Al Green's "Love and Happiness," and a pair of glorious instrumentals by Jackie Mittoo, "Jumpin' Jehosophat," a version of Syl Johnson's "Is It Because I'm Black," and "Fancy Pants," which works off of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." Also obvious here is the huge impact Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions had on Jamaican reggae artists as evidenced by the Heptones' take on Mayfield's "Choice of Colours," and Cornel Campbell's elegant transformation of another Mayfield song, "Ten to One." Again, this set works even without thinking about the song sources, and that unique, upside-down, and skewed sense of Jamaican rhythm makes each of these cover versions a thing unto itself, derived from but still somehow apart from the original American singles. This is how great music communicates and transforms each to each across all manner of political and cultural borders, and this ongoing relationship between Jamaican and American musicians is a fascinating dialogue to follow.

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