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Studio One Ska
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  • Jamaica earned its independence in 1962, and in many ways ska was the joyous and energetic expression of that event, a music that burst past its lineage of American jazz and R&B into a kinetic area all its own, and until around 1965, when the hangover began to wear off and the slower, moodier rhythms of rocksteady began to take over, ska presented the fingerprint of Jamaica to the world. Front and center in the ska explosion was Clement Dodd's immortal Studio One, which opened its doors in 1963, and that studio's house band, the Skatalites, who are featured in one way or another on every track on this fine sampler of Studio One's ska years. Every side collected here is a classic, but Jackie Mittoo's "El Bang Bang," Tommy McCook's "Sampson" and Don Drummond's "Don Cosmic" (all three musicians were big parts of the Skatalites collective) are particular standouts, full of the ragged, loose joy that is part and parcel of early ska. ~ Steve Leggett
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