Soul Jazz Records – ‘100% Dynamite’

The last few months of my joyful stay in Penzance met with a discovery of some classic new grits and grooves. I discovered 100% Dynamite, an absolute gem of a compilation form London-based Soul Jazz Records. These tracks were the real deal, the absolute cream of original Jamaican funky soul, ska and rocksteady by the likes of The Maytals, The Upsetters and the keyboard kid genius, Jackie Mittoo. Listening to, and being slightly blown away by the quality of the 14 tracks, it felt like my passion for funk and soul was being reignited, and better still it opened up a whole new world of Jamaican music.

The album featured ska and rocksteady versions of soul tracks I already loved. Aretha Franklin’s Rocksteady was given the full on ska treatment by The Marvells whilst Marlena Shaw’s Woman of the Ghetto was given a more gentle reggae tingle by Phyllis Dillon. But, what grabbed my groove the most was Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s house band (and soon to be The Wailers) The Upsetters’ stonking ska blast of James Brown’s Popcorn. Hell yeah, the drums and bass, man… just one killer break.

The Skatalites were well known to me, but not keyboard king Jackie Mittoo whose Stereo Freeze is just another funked up ska stomp. Devouring 100% Dynamite got me searching for more, and it didn’t take long for more Soul Jazz comps to get me. A year or so down the line they released New Orleans Funk and Saturday Night Fish Fry and my obsession with funk and soul kicked in again, invigorated by the brilliance of Eddie Bo, The Gaturs and Roger and The Gypsies immense Pass The Hatchet.

For any fans of funk, soul or ska, if you’ve not found it already, do yourselves a huge favour and dive deep into the Soul Jazz Records back catalogue. Having merged with Studio One, many of the comps feature the label’s legendary history. 100% Dynamite is aptly named. Get on it, and the four blasts of Dynamite that followed.

Bob Marley and The Wailers – ‘Legend’

By the summer of ’85 our social life was gathering pace. At age 17 I was a shy boy with limited confidence having led a sheltered and comfortable life, certainly compared to my closest friends. Life had been relatively straightforward, and my character and personality was yet to blossom. At 19 I was playing catch up with much gusto. My mates were in bands, we were hitting bars, pubs and clubs and very quickly we found our spiritual home – Charivari at The Cabaret Club.

‘Charivari’ meaning: ‘a medley of discordant sounds’

Charivari was the brainchild of Toby Rose and Pete Young. In 1985 new romantics had all but vanished and the hip-hop and acid scene were yet to really kick in. Wham, Duran Duran, Madonna and Shakin’ Stevens were top of the pops and Bournemouth was crying out for an alternative club.

Charivari was packed on a weekly basis with nearly 300 mods, punks, goths, hippies, suedeheads, rastas, skinheads, rockabillies, beatniks and all manner of student alternatives who wanted to be amongst like-minded, wide-eyed music appreciados, and if there was one artist who seemed to be appreciado’d more than any other, it was Bob Marley. His music transcended barriers; be it musical, political or whichever youth cult you’d aspire to. The sheer joy of Could You Be Loved is futile to resist.

Legend had been released the year before and was the obvious go to album, even though most of the songs were at least faintly familiar to me already. Whilst the album showcases none of Marley’s early ska roots, it simply glows with love and empathy, pleading for kindness and unity in a world full of injustice and oppression.

Mention Jamaican culture and Rastafarianism and Bob Marley comes to mind immediately, and with a message of such genuine warmth and love, no other artist’s music has had such ability to bring people together. Whilst Bob Marley personifies reggae music, his music was enriched with funk and soul rhythms and pop melodies. His legacy lives on far beyond his music…

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively”