Big Sid Bucknor News the Entire Reggae World Should Know

by Aug 25, 2023News

Sid Buck Records
There are some very big, very exciting developments occurring right now in Canada involving the legacy of legendary Jamaican studio engineer Norman “Sid” Bucknor—developments all reggae fans and reggae industry players should know about. But first, a bit of context.

In 2018, highlighting Bucknor’s “ear for hit songs,” longtime reggae-reporter Howard Campbell opined in the Jamaica Observer: “Of the audio engineers who worked in Jamaican studios during the 1960s and 1970s, Norman ‘Syd’ Bucknor was the most outstanding. Bucknor was also a producer who helped guide some of the biggest artistes including Alton Ellis, The Wailers, Delroy Wilson, and Ken Boothe.” (Helpfully, Campbell additionally pointed out “Bucknor was at the control[s] for songs like Alton Ellis’ Let Him Try, I’m Just a Guy, and Get Ready Rocksteady; Lorna Bennett’s Breakfast in Bed; Better Must Come by Delroy Wilson; Let the Power Fall by Max Romeo; Ken Boothe’s Everything I Own and Dennis Brown’s Some Like It Hot.”)

Eight years earlier, reporting on Bucknor’s death in 2010 (for The Gleaner), Campbell observed that not only did Bucknor work with “the cream of Studio One acts,” he “was also the first engineer employed by the Hoo Kim brothers when they opened Channel One in 1972, [though] he left after only one year to work with Byron Lee at Dynamic [Sounds Studio].” Perhaps most significantly though: “One of Bucknor’s greatest achievements as an engineer was his work on Natty Dread, the 1974 breakthrough album by Bob Marley & The Wailers.”

And now, with that essential background in mind—bless up Howard Campbell for the assistance—you can truly appreciate the “big Sid Bucknor news.”

Sleeve Rob Oil
In 2022, a probate court in the U.K. named Sid Bucknor’s firstborn son, Byron Bucknor, the owner of all of Sid’s master recordings; these include ¼, ½, 1, and 2-inch reel-to-reel tapes and multi-tracks, sound systems, and all the rest of his father’s possessions. Consequently, Byron Bucknor has formed “Sid Buck Records” in Canada, where he lives; this is a new record label dedicated to remastering (with the most modern techniques), digitizing, and releasing both previously released, and previously unreleased, songs Byron Bucknor has discovered (and is still in the process of discovering) by way of his inheritance.

Assisting Byron in this epic effort is fellow Canadian Rick Morrison. Morrison is a saxophonist, pianist, composer and producer/engineer; since the early 70s, before establishing his own music studio (“RMP Sound Studio”)—and then after—Rick has recorded and performed with a vast and varied array of notable artists; further, since 1995, Rick’s been a member of “The Sattalites,” one of Canada’s premier reggae bands (The Sattalites have the distinction of being the only Canadian reggae band to ever be invited to “Reggae Sunsplash” in Jamaica).

On July 20, I spoke with both Bucknor and Morrison about “Sid Buck Records” and some of its initial and anticipated next moves in the reggae industry. Here’s what I learned.

Morrison described the master tapes Byron inherited from his father—which Morrison has been enlisted to remaster and digitize—as a veritable “treasure trove.”

Sisters Of Soul
For example, from this newly recovered Jamaican music booty, Sid Buck Records has already re-released, for purchase, the following singles on vinyl and all digital platforms (Apple Music, Amazon Music, Bandcamp, etcetera): Come out of Darkness by Spanky Brown (plus a dub version), Road Black by Winston Wright, Johnny Get Worse by Prince Far I, Tell Love Hello by the Ebony Sisters (plus a dub version), Rob-Oil by Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace, and My Girl by Slim Smith.

Additional re-releases and first-time issues are forthcoming, and they include works by the Webber Sisters, Aura Lewis, Mystic 13, and more—including, amazingly, a previously unreleased ska version of Desmond Dekker’s Israelites! (Morrison speculates it was likely recorded a year or so before the immensely popular reggae version of Israelites.)

Byron is not naïve about entering the reggae business by using his Dad’s old master tapes, and he readily admits he’s likely to face legal challenges along the way; indeed, Byron told me that because of the unsavory and unscrupulous practices he’s already observed in the industry, he’s decided to attend law school where he will study music and copyright law. Furthermore, as a new business, Byron indicated “Sid Buck Records” will, at least right now, stick to publishing what he described as “unencumbered” works—works that, in his estimation, are less subject to legal claims because they were chiefly composed, produced, and engineered by Sid Bucknor, as well as recorded on one of Sid’s own record labels.

Putting the expected legalities aside, Byron Bucknor made clear that despite all his late father’s acknowledged accolades, he doesn’t believe Sid Bucknor has received the proper respect and recognition he’s due. “Sid Buck Records,” Byron hopes, will help to remedy this historical oversight while also bringing wonderful musical works—which in most instances are scarcely available, or completely unavailable—to the market for all reggae-lovers to make part of their permanent collections.

“Sid Buck Records”: A new record label reggae-lovers worldwide should be paying close attention to in days to come.