We are pleased to announce the fourth installment of Roots of Sound System series, A Salute to Studio One in celebration of Jamaican Independence Day! The event will feature legendary sounds Downbeat the Ruler and JahWise Tippatone Hi-Fi with Ranking Joe, Carlton Livingston, and Screechy Dan on the mic. The selectors will be digging deep into their vaults, playing some of their most vital and rare Studio One records though the “Tower of Sound”.
Studio One was involved with most of the major music movements in Jamaica during the 1960s and 1970s (including ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub and dancehall) much like Motown revolutionized popular music in America. The label was founded by Clement “Coxsone” Dodd in 1954, and the first recordings were cut in 1957 on Brentford Road in Kingston. Studio One has recorded and released music by (and had a large hand in shaping the careers of) artists such as Bob Marley and the Wailers, Lee “Scratch” Perry and Burning Spear just to name a few.
Downbeat the Ruler
Since the early 70’s, Tony Screw, a.k.a. Downbeat the Ruler, has been entertaining and educating crowds, from Brooklyn to Berlin, with his inimitable blend of stage presence, exclusive dubplates and a second sense for keeping a dance floor packed. Named in honor of Tony Screw’s musical mentor Sir Coxsone Dodd, Downbeat the Ruler Sound has introduced generations of reggae fans to the sounds of Studio One, the blueprint of Jamaican music.
Ranking Joe was born Joseph Jackson in Kingston on June 1, 1959. Launching his recording career right around the time that the reggae/dub movement began sweeping the world during the mid-’70s, renowned producer and founder of Studio One, Coxsone Dodd took Joe under his wing as he landed a DJ spot with a soundsystem called El Paso Hi-Fi. With Dodd overseeing Joe’s early sessions, a debut single was issued in 1975 (under the name of Little Joe), “Gun Court.” From there, Joe branched out and worked with a variety of other reggae producers (including Bunny Lee, Watty Burnett, and Derrick Howard), which resulted in forming a new soundsystem which included U-Roy, and a name change to Ranking Joe. It was also during this time that Joe developed his trademark: a vocal style that showcased his talent for reeling off speedy tongue twisters. After relocating to New York City (the Bronx, to be exact), Joe continued to produce recordings for other reggae artists, including Frankie Paul, Black Uhuru, Dennis Brown, Glen Washington, Glen Brown, The Meditations, King Tubby, Shinehead, and Papa San.
Born in 1962 in St. Mary, Jamaica, Carlton Livingston sang in choirs and in an informal harmony trio (which later morphed into Knowledge) before entering the music business in earnest when he recorded “The Tale of Two Cities” in 1978 at Channel One Studios. He eventually ended up working with several of the top Jamaican producers, including Coxsone Dodd, Winston Riley, Sly & Robbie, Clive Jarrett, and King Jammy, among others. His signature song, “100 Weight of Collie Weed,” was a huge island hit in 1984, and was the feature song on the subsequent album Fret Dem a Fret. Livingston recorded sparingly thereafter, finally releasing Emotions in 1994. Four years later Livingston had an international hit when he recut his earlier “Rumours” track, this time with Shabba Ranks on board and production by Bobby Digital. Currently, Livingston makes his home in the U.S. and continues to record and perform at his own pace. ~ Steve Leggett