Studio One Funk - Various Artists
Brand New & Sealed DOUBLE 180g VINYL LP
Clement Dodd's Studio One is absolute ground zero for modern Jamaican music, and there's no denying that the sturdy rhythm tracks that were created at Studio One during its 1960s and 1970s peak were funky. Jamaican funky, that is, which isn't quite the same thing as funk. It's an important distinction, because listeners drawn to this collection because of its title and expecting to hear some monster funk grooves done up island style are going to be a bit surprised by what's actually here. Soulful Reggae might be a better title, since these tracks, if they're funk at all, are only funk in the broadest application of the term. That doesn't mean this is a bad collection. It isn't. It's really quite interesting. Compiled by Dodd himself shortly before his death, Studio One Funk boasts some killer sides, including Alton Ellis' wonderful "African Descendents," Jackie Mittoo's soulful organ take on "Hang 'Em High," Cedric Brooks' reconfiguration of the "Skylarking" rhythm as "Idleberg," and the Underground Vegetables' sax-led cover of Booker T. & the MG's' "Melting Pot." None of this sounds remotely like American funk, or even a Jamaican approximation of it, but it is, well, very funky and cool roots reggae (with a ska track or two thrown in), which isn't a bad tradeoff at all.