Nice Up the Dance: Studio One Discomixes

Nice Up the Dance: Studio One Discomixes

Various Artists

Heartbeat

Once again, Heartbeat mines the vaults of Jamaica•s legendary Studio One to release a set of classic reggae material never before heard on CD. Nice Up the Dance collects some of the first 12-inch dance mixes the label created in the •70s. The standard practice of the time was to take songs that had already been hits and extend them to incredible lengths by adding additional instrumentals or DJ breaks, and all the tracks here follow that mold. It•s hard to argue with the talent involved, as artists like Horace Andy, Delroy Wilson, Alton Ellis, and Tommy McCook are justifiably considered legends; however, I find that in most cases, these extended mixes tend to meander, and I find my attention wandering. This could have a lot to do with my personal preference for the shorter track lengths (and often peppier tempos) of the ska, rocksteady, and early reggae periods. It•s a short step from the discomixes to the later dub period of reggae, an era that doesn•t hold a lot of interest for me personally. But it is fascinating to have this release as a document of the evolution of a vibrant, alive, and always-growing music, and there•s certainly nothing that•s less than top quality. Of special note is the closing track, •Slogan on the Wall,• a newly-minted discomix created by mixing The Viceroys• original track with Tommy McCook and the Discosonics• •Tenor On the Call.• This is probably not a record for the casual listener, but it•s certainly a vital piece of reggae history.

Heartbeat Records, One Camp Street, Cambridge, MA 02140; http://www.rounder.com/heartbeat

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