April 19, 2016

Alton Ellis – Sings Rock and Soul (Studio One)

krikon

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alt

There are artists and labels you must know about, “Studio One” (founded by Coxone Dodd) is one of the most essential along with legend Alton Ellis (one of the labels biggest artists). This is his second album, released shortly after his “Treasure Isle” classic “Mr.Soul of Jamaica”. It’s a mix of covers (of American soul) and his own tunes, many of which you have heard before, sung by other artists or “verisioned”.

Appropriately the album starts with one of his own songs, “I’m just a guy”, an amazingly soulful song. It’s upbeat and impossible not to like and deals with the nature of “regular guys” and their lovelife. Perfect song to clean your house to, this will keep your spirit high. It continues with “Let him try” where the tempo drops and Alton croons about his broken heart. Not bad but not as catchy as the first song. The album is full of classics but “Ain’t that loving you” may be the biggest. For years i thought it was an original Alton song but it appears that it’s a Johny Taylor cover (stax artist) which he has made very much his own. There’s a few more songs on side A like the cover of “Whiter shade of pale”, okay but at the same time not all that.

Side two starts with a bang, a loud one as the genre defining anthem “Get ready” starts, heard several covers and it’s on a boatload of compilations. It’s catchy and a perfect party starter, if i where a dj i would play it all the time. Getting some versatility going he slow it down for the next cut, “Im still in love with you”. It’s one of my personal favorites, Alton sings with such conviction it’s crazy. You really believe he’s in pain on this one. Other highlights is “Mad, mad, mad” which stands as foundation for about 1 million other songs on the same riddim. There’s more gems to be found but im going to try and wrap things up.

It’s hard talking about favorites on this album when almost every tune is a classic, just cause i don’t write an essay on every track doesn’t mean they’re not good. One can tell Alton Ellis is inspired by American soul of it’s time, something which is seen in the choice of covers on here and the way he’s singing. As far as crooners go he could compete with the best of em and he’s able to put an amazing amount of conviction and feelings in his voice.

This is an must have album, as with most “Studio One” albums it’s been re-released multiple times, some being worse than others (as far as pressings go). If you are going to get it on vinyl try an early release or the N.Y pressings with the yellow and red label.