Over the last few years the Sunrise label, a subsidiary of Secret Records, has been busy issuing a series of CD’s featuring all of the 7″ singles from the very earliest years of the legendary Blue Beat label. There was one double CD for 1960, two for 1962 and now three for 1963. Unfortunately this will be the final year of this remarkable series as the copyright for recordings was extended from 50 years to 70 in 2011 and as this ruling comes into effect we’re going to have to wait another twenty years for the reissue of vintage recordings such as these. You can read about the change here.
Higgs & Wilson – Mighty Man
This last batch of three double CD’s gathers together the releases for 1962 in chronological order with the A sides on the first CD and the B sides on the second. The first side on the Part 1 CD is Million Dollar Baby by Shenley (Duffus) & Annette (Clarke) originally issued on Blue Beat catalogue number BB72, the last A side on part three is Busty & Cool – Mr Policeman originally issues on BB177. There are also a handful of bonus tracks on each CD featuring recordings released on other Melodisc subsidiaries such as Dice and Chek. Another bonus is the extensive and informative sleeve notes by Mike Atherton, these help place the music in context and show that Sunrise are serious about releasing a quality product.
Count Ossie & His Warrikas – First Gone
There is a mix of musical styles here from Shuffle sounds and the emerging Ska beat, raucous Rhythm & Blues, sentimental Ballads and almost everything in between. Not everything is great of course, there is the odd painfully off key voice that will leave you wishing that auto tune had existed at the start of the sixties and some muddy sound tracks that betray the very basic recording facilities that existed around this time. Fortunately for each weak tune there is a strong one and artists like the Blues Busters, Higgs & Wilson, Eric Morris, Derrick Harriot and many more, guarantee that there is quality on every CD on each of the three parts.
Prince Buster – Time Longer Than Rope
The sound quality is mixed which is hardly surprising given as most of the recordings must have been sourced from old 45’s but over all it’s pretty good and given the vintage you’d be hard pressed to find cleaner copies of many of these titles.
It’s hard to listen to more than one of these CD’s in a single sitting, but as a document that charts the early years of the Jamaican music industry these are essential. Sunrise could have compiled just one single/double CD of the very best tracks but the attraction just wouldn’t be the same.
Parts one and two are available now, part three is released on the 20 May.