Out now on seven inch single from Rock A Shacka; Roland Alphonso & The Skatalites – Freedom Sound/Norma Fraser – Every Body. I mentioned this release only the other day but this post is intended to round up and summarise the controversy it has caused and also, now I’ve received a copy, to review the release.
First the easy part. Freedom Sound is Studio One ska of the heighest order, previously only released on LP this first seven inch issue is well over due. Given the quality of the tune it’s difficult to understand why Clement Dodd never got around to putting this out on a single.
The Norma Fraser side is fine, nothing spectacular to these ears just a solid 1965 ska tune.
As always the presentation of this release is quite superb, the usual Rock A Shacka quality means great mastering and pressing and a beautiful silk screened silver and black reproduction C&N label.
This will cost more than your average seven inch single but you’ll be paying for the very best. In Europe you can buy from Copasetic and possibly Honest Jon’s though it’s not listed on the latters website at the time of writing.
Tommy from Rock A Shacka responded on his Facebook page saying the release was not a bootleg and had been properly licenced, he accused Dubstore of attempting to sabotage the release. A similar staement was made on the Rock A Shacka website that reiterated that the release is properly licenced and the accusation that it wasn’t was innacurate and appeared to be an attempt to sabotage the release.
Clement Coxsone Dodd’s daughter Carol Dodd also made a comment on Facebook that the release was a bootleg. Rock A Shaka stated that the release was licenced by her half brother Clement Dodd Junior and that he had re-confirmed that everyhthing was above board and legitimate.
Apparently Clement Dodd Junior upset his father when he released the Mojo Rocksteady LP on the Coxson Jr label in 1992 without permission. Coxsone Senior licenced an album of the same name with a very similar tracklist to Heartbeat Records in America in 1994. Both versions of the LP are superb.
In May 2010 the Gleaner reported that a court battle between Clement Dodd Junior one one side and Carol and Norma Dodd (her mother and Coxsone Seniors wife) on the other had been resolved in Clement JR’s favour. This court case resulted from Clement Jr claiming that his name was wrongfully removed from his father’s will, this was opposed by Carol and Norma Dodd who insisted this was done intentionally. As Clement JR won the Gleaner reported that he would
“… have a part to play in his famous father’s company, where some of the biggest names in Jamaican popular music got their start. He will earn royalties through Jamrec, which handles Studio One’s publishing, and have a say in how the company’s vast catalogue will be marketed and distributed.”
When Carol Dodd was asked about this on Facebook her response was
“winning a court case giving you shares makes you a shareholder not a director … I am warning you all he is not a director and does not make representation on behalf of Jamaica Recording and Pub Studio”
This appears to contradict the Gleaner article which Carol suggested was factually incorrect.
What is clear is there is a deep division between Carol and Clement Dodd JR. This may account for why there has been little reissue activity from Studio One in the 11 months since the case was reportedly settled. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of each parties position this is a huge pity and hardly helps the legacy of Studio One records which you’d hope they would both be contributing towards.
Dubstore state on their website: “We have been the official Japanese agency for Studio One since September 2006” within that period they have released two singles (recorded in 2004). It’s unclear if they have an exlusive deal or if this could be considered legally binding.
There is no doubt that Rock A Shaka have made a contract in good faith with Clement Dodd JR. Dubstore obviously believe they are in the right but the accusation of sabotage against them will stand unless they can provide some firm evidence to back up their claims. On the basis of what is currently public knowledge both Japanese companies appear to be pawns in the ongoing bitter dispute between the siblings of Clement Dodd. Without sight of the will and a better understanding of the position of both Carol Dodd and Clement JR within Jamrec it’s impossible to determine the rights and wrongs of this sorry affair.
Could another court case be in the offing? Let’s hope not, the Studio One catalogue has been under exploited for far too long… we need more releases like Freedom Sound not more litigation and accusation.