The Great C.S. Dodd, Studio 1, and the Death of VinylJanuary 24, 2008
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the “Studio One sound” was virtually synonymous with the sound of ska and rocksteady, and Dodd attracted some of the best of Jamaican talent to his studio and jumpstarted the careers of Bob Marley and the Wailers, The Skatalites, Winston “Burning Spear” Rodney, Lee “Scratch” Perry, The Heptones, Delroy Wilson, Horace Andy, Dennis Brown and Sugar Minott, just to name a few.
In the 1970s, when dub became popular, Dodd tried his hand at it, but couldn’t match his competitors. However, he continued successfully to produce artists such as Dennis Alcapone, Johnny Osbourne and Freddie McGregor, who continued to embrace the roots reggae style. He also worked with artists on a style that would become known as dancehall. Beginning in 1979, Studio One had hits with artists including Sugar Minott, Willie Williams, The Lone Ranger, and Michigan & Smiley. In 1979 Dodd left for the United States, resuming the operation of Studio One in Brooklyn, New York, and opening a retail music store, which remained open until his death at age 72 in 2004.
Although major recordings and productions at Studio One slowed drastically towards the end of the 1970’s, the riddims originating at Studio One would continue to have a profound influence on reggae. Riddims such as “Real Rock”, “Mr Bassie”, “Hot Milk”, and Satta-A-Masagana among many many others all originated in the house of Studio One, and new roots reggae tunes are still being made over these same riddims. Pick up any Studio One anthology, especially on the fabulous Souljazz Record label, and you are sure to hear 5 or 6 riddims that you thought originated with Sizzla, Capleton, Luciano, or Berres Hammond. His studio equipment consisted of a basic 4 track board so the sound suffers a bit on most of his earlier stuff, but it’s still great enough to put a chill up my back every time time I hear one. Hell, Alton Ellis’ “I’m still in Love” was even the “first dance” song at our wedding.
Coxsone Dodd was born this week in 1932. I honestly never go a single day without listening to a song he produced.
Jamaican music has been pressed on vinyl 45s (pictured for you youngsters) from its beginning on up to the present day. No respected dancehall dj would be seen spinning anything but a 45, even Phillys own Solomonic Sound crew. If you wanted the freshest riddims straight from Jamaica, vinyl was the only way to get them. I’ve got crates of them in my basement now. But according to this great article from London’s Guardian, those days are over.
A quote from UK DJ David Rodigan:
In a nutshell, vinyl has been eliminated by the people who play the music to the public. The key players – and by that I mean the sound system selectors that people go to see every weekend, who can make or break a song – are no longer dealing with it in any shape or form and have all switched to CD. Now if someone wants to send me a song, they just email it to me as an MP3. This process has been gradual, but it’s now absolute.