Listen To The Music ~ Caltone's Jamaican 45's 1966-69
CD / 2xLP
April 19, 2012
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 4||Sleeve : 5|
Since their first release, Santic & Friends' "A Harder Shade Of Black" in 1995, British re-issue label Pressure Sounds has been putting out worthwhile material from the past. While other respected re-issue labels like Blood & Fire and Makasound had to close down their business, Pressure Sounds is still alive and kicking as is proven by their latest release, the compilation set "Listen To The Music ~ Caltone's Jamaican 45's 1966-69", number 74 in their re-issue programme.
In 2005, their 47th album release was a great compilation of hellishly rare rocksteady gems entitled "Safe Travel". The tracks gathered on "Safe Travel" were produced by Phil Pratt, who -- being part of Ken Lack's Caltone collective of producers, musicians and artists -- begun cutting tunes for the Caltone and Jontom labels prior to his well-known Sunshot work. And now there's a second compilation on the Pressure Sounds label, again gathering beautiful (and almost impossible to get) Jamaican 45s that were put out on the Caltone label.
Ken Lack (real name Keith Calneck), a businessman with a passion for music, started to produce music after he had spent a short time as the Skatalites' road manager. Probably the most unjustly ignored producer (although Bunny Lee and Phil Pratt handled most of the hands-on production) of that time released a stunning series of 45s on his Caltone label, nearly all of them featuring artists of the first order including The Heptones, The Clarendionians, The Tartans (with Prince Lincoln, Cedric Myton and Devon Russell), Ken Boothe, Roy Shirley, The Pioneers, The Emotions (fronted by Max Romeo), and The Diplomats. The riddims for his productions were recorded at WIRL, Federal and Treasure Isle with bands that were led by Lynn Taitt and Tommy McCook, and featured gifted musicians such as Johhny "Dizzy" Moore and Vin Gordon. The Caltone label only existed for a few short years, because Ken Lack left Jamaica at the beginning of the 1970s. Ken Lack died in 2001 in Miami, Florida, of a heart condition.
The 21 tunes featured on this set cover the years from 1966 to 1969, actually the late period ska years through to early reggae. For the most part the album is full of rare rocksteady gems, making it a real joy for any fan of that period in Jamaica's popular music to listen to this collection. Here you won't find any weak track or filler, but only solid to excellent tunes. From the wonderful opener, the essential "I'm Sorry" by Peter Austin & the Clarendonians, up to The Emotions' "Gypsy", you're treated to music that is stamped with quality all over. Take for instance The Tartans' "Making Love", with Devon Russell's voice meshing perfectly with the soaring harmonies of Prince Lincoln Thompson, Cedric Myton, and Lindberg Lewis. Or another one, Alva Lewis' killer "Return Home", which kicks in with an awesome drum solo before gliding into a wonderful rocksteady vocal. Also don't overlook The Uniques' "The Journey", with the exceptional lead vocal of the great Slim Smith. A beautiful tune, even though it's much more straight forward R'n'B than rocksteady. Only three examples of great tunes, but there are so many included here that it is almost impossible to give them a mention.
Big thumbs up for the people from Pressure Sounds for putting out this "Listen To The Music" compilation, and also the previously released "Safe Travel ~ The Rare side Of Phil Pratt & Friends 1966-1968", as they make the legacy of a Jamaican label that was responsible for producing some of the most accomplished rocksteady ever widely available.