I have to say I was a little surprised when this arrived through the post. When Sunrise Records put out the first part of their homage to the mighty Blue Beat label with the issue for 1960 last summer, this was released with the knowledge that UK copyright law made such recordings public domain after 50 years. A bright future was in store for their releases with some seriously wonderful music due in the series within the next few years. But then last September this all changed… the laughably nicknamed “Cliff’s Law” was passed by the European Union Council, this unified the period of copyright for recorded music throughout the European Union to 70 years.
I wrote about this ruling here but suffice to say that the number of Jamaican artists who stand to benefit to any kind of significant degree is pretty much zero. Meanwhile millionaires like Cliff Richards will continue to rake in the cash, Sir Cliff can easily afford all the botox and fake tan he’ll ever need already without making us wait another 20 years before we can enjoy more issues of the Blue Beat Story… but then again when was life ever fair?
Derrick Morgan – Leave Earth
So if your wondering how Sunrise can do it the answer is fairly simple and sadly there is no shock good news here. EU countries have until 2014 to enact this ruling under law. I expect that if we’re lucky we’ll get The Story Of Blue Beat 1961 part 2, the issues for 1962 and then nothing more until the year 2034. Nice one Cliff.
So what does 2 CD set The Story Of Blue Beat 1961 give us? The first 23 singles released on the label in ’61 are presented in chronological order, the A sides on disk one and the B sides on disc two alongside four bonus tracks featuring a release each from the Limbo and Melodisc labels of the same vintage. Any compilation that gives every release on a label, warts and all, is going to be a little mixed in quality and whilst there are a number of tunes here that would never grace a best of there are plenty of real greats. From R&B romps to early shuffle that lead to full blown ska there is plenty here to enjoy. The number of early Jamaican classics has increased significantly from the 1960 discs check for example Carolina – The Folkes Brothers, River Jordan by Clancy Eccles, Leave Earth by Derrick Morgan and Creation by Lascelles Perkins, this is a musical history lesson of the highest order.
The Charmers – Lonely Boy
The Story Of Blue Beat 1961: Part 1 will be on sale from 27th February.