Out on the 30th May on Fantastic Voyage records is a three CD release entitled Jumping The Shuffle Blues: Jamaican Sound System Classics 1946-1960.
The promotional copies of this release come with an inkjet printed cover, no sleeve notes and CDR disks but I assume this will be properly and professionally presented when it’s officially released. No information is given regarding the source of these recording except to note that many are appearing on CD for the first time. Unsurprisingly the earliest tunes particularly are not the greatest quality but nothing is terrible and overall this sounds fine.
Later For The Gator – Willis Jackson
The 85 tunes spread over the three disks showcase the kind of sounds that were popular in Jamaica and being played on sound systems prior to the emergence of the Jamaican recording industry. Disc one presents the earliest sounds from 1946-51, the second 1951-54 and the last 1955-60. You get the full mix here from raucous and raw early Rhytm and Blues through to a much more polished sound with crooners and ballads alongside the odd nod to Jazz and doo wop.
Many of these tunes are well known in the world of Jamaican music; Later For The Gator by Willis Jackson for example was covered up by Clement Dodd and became the theme tune for his Coxsone Downbeat set in the 50’s. Many others, such as Amos Milburn’s One Scotch One Bourbon One Beer and Barbie Gaye’s My Boy Lollipop were covered by Jamaican artists.
KC Lovin’ (AKA Kansas City) – Little Willie Littlefield
The concept behind this release isn’t new, EMI/Stateside put out two volumes called Original Jamaican Soundsystem Style a few years ago and more recently there has been double CD titled Looking Back: The Jamaican Chart hits ’58 and ’59 from Sunspot/Sunrise (the latter mixes popular American releases alongside home grown Jamaican talent). There is no duplication between Jumping The Shuffle Blues and the Looking Back release but there is a fair bit with the earlier EMI releases, however even if you already own these there is certainly more than enough new material to justify buying this too.
Dumplin’s – Doc Bagby
It’s likely that we’ll se an increasing amount of this material coming out. Anything recorded up to 1960 is effectively in the public domain now as the copyright relating to recorded music expires after 50 years (the time period differs between countries but it’s commonly 50 years incuding in the UK). Putting it simply this means that this music can be legally reissued by anyone without licensing or paying anything to the original artists or their estates. As we progress into the mid 60’s and ska and later rocksteady is included things could become very interesting indeed, as there will be a real flixibility to cross between producers, seek out obscure artists and access catalogues that were previously all but unavailable (such as Prince Busters). If this can be done with quality sound reproduction and decent presentation that treats the music with the respect it deserves then this whole new era can only be welcomed.
The compiler of this compilation, Phil Etgart, has confirmed that there will be full sleeve notes etc.