The Studio One Story DVD

Studio One Story, a DVD that covers the history of the famed Jamaican studio, has been released here, according to the company's founder, Clement "Coxsone" Dodd. The producer told Splash that the set, which also includes an 18-track CD, has been out since October.

Dodd said Studio One Story has been doing well in the United States and Europe where it was initially distributed by London's Soul Jazz Records, but said 50 copies were released here last week.

"We did 26,000 copies for Europe and the US and I'm pleased to say that it has sold off," Dodd, 72, said at the Studio One complex Wednesday. "The demand is so strong that we have had to order more."

Studio One Story, the DVD, has four hours of footage documenting the origin of Jamaica's best-known recording facility. It contains interviews with Dodd and artistes who got their start there, including singers Alton Ellis, Ken Boothe, Cornel Campbell and Marcia Griffiths.

As well, there are snippets with some of the key musicians who played on some of the biggest hit songs recorded at Studio One, the most noted being guitarist Ernie Ranglin, trumpeter Johnny "Dizzy" Moore of The Skatalites and keyboardist Jackie Mittoo, Dodd's former musical director who died from cancer in Canada in 1990.

The CD segment features songs from the Ska and rock steady eras of the 1960s, and the early roots-dancehall scene of the mid and late 1970s. Theophilus Beckford's Easy Snapping, arguably the first international hit recorded in Jamaica; The Skatalites' Guns of Navarone; Dancing Mood by Delroy Wilson; Larry Marshall's Nanny Goat and Nice up, The Dance by Michigan and Smiley are among the 18 songs.

The DVD and CD are accompanied by a 100-page booklet. Dodd says Studio One Story has sparked even more interest in the studio's history. "It's been very effective, I've gotten calls from people who never knew much about Studio One," he said.

Dodd explained that Studio One Story took 14 months to complete. He says the concept came from management at Soul Jazz, one of the main distributors of the Studio One catalogue in Europe.

"They said our albums were doing so well (in Europe) that they thought it would be a good idea to release a DVD," said Dodd; Studio One Story marks the company's foray into the DVD format which has become a lucrative market for major record and film companies since its advent in the mid 1990s.

A former farm worker, Dodd got into the music scene in the early 1950s and launched his Downbeat sound system in 1955. He ventured into recording in the mid 1950s, producing artistes like Beckford and Ellis, who had strong hits with Easy Snapping and Muriel, respectively.

In 1963, he started Studio One at Brentford Road, setting the pace for a series of hit songs as the Ska and rock steady beats grew in the dancehalls. Dodd had a purple patch with The Skatalites band harmony groups, including The Heptones and singers such as Boothe and Wilson.

In the 1970s, Studio One was the stomping ground for upcoming roots singers, Freddie McGregor, Johnny Osbourne, Willie Williams and Sugar Minott, and deejays, Lone Ranger and Michigan and Smiley.

After living in the United States for close to 20 years, Dodd resumed recording at Studio One's Brentford Road base in the past five years, releasing albums by Glen Washington, Bobby Brown, Lone Ranger, The Ethiopians and the Wailing Soul.

Posted: Fri - May 30, 2003 at 09:27 PM