Listening to "Summer Down," "One Love," "Wages of Love" and other irrepressible hits on One Love: Bob Marley & the Wailers at Studio One, it's easy to see why the names Studio One, Brentford Road and Clement S. Dodd still resonate today ... 50 years after Dodd opened his Kingston studio and label.
Had Dodd merely recorded Bob Marley's formative ska and rocksteady years and called it a day, we would still speak of his work in historic terms. Not only did Dodd recognize the perfect harmonies and unique songwriting of Jamaica's most famous sons, but he was the first to find a balance between the street-corner singing of Kingston's R&B aficionados and the bass-and-drum heavy rhythms beginning to permeate the city's sounds.
But, of course, the Wailers' output barely scratches the surface of Studio One. In celebration of the studio's 50th anniversary ... and despite Dodd's 2004 passing ... Heartbeat Records has begun re-releasing Studio One's extensive back catalog, starting with these four now-classic compilations, remastered and bolstered by bonus tracks. In addition to the Wailers' work, the discs contain proto-dancehall toasts including Michigan and Smiley's "Rub a Dub Style" and Lone Ranger's "The Answer," foundation-roots efforts from Burning Spear and Culture, and instrumental rhythms that still form the basis of reggae today, such as "Throw Me Corn" and "Rockfort Rock."
To many young reggae fans in America and the U.K., these collections formed the initial hymnal of Jamaican music. In their re-released formats, each presents a more complete peek into Studio One's still-influential machinations. And there's Dodd's masterful formula: Foundation bass and drums, rhythm coming forward, with soaring harmonies and vital lyrics mixed high and strong. His is so much the production standard of pop and R&B today that it's hard to see a time when that wasn't the case ... and easy to see why Studio One dominated reggae in the early 1960s, and still does today.