Various Artists

The Rare side of Rocksteady

Here we have another treasure in plain brown packaging, like the Jamaican 45s of old that were cheaply printed and cut on low-quality vinyl but when played make you sweat, giggle, and dance. I picked up Safe Travel at Amoeba on vinyl after taking one look at the track listing. A reissue courtesy of Pressure Sounds, safe travel is at the same time characterized by tracks you may not have heard, drawing mainly from the JohnTom and Caltone labels' vaults. The official story on these two labels (from AC's Roots Reggae ) is:

"Phill Pratt [producer of the comp] was born and brought up in Kingston 14 and he first sang in a vocal group with his schoolmates Ken Boothe and Heardly Foulding performing at charities and school concerts but they never made any recordings. In 1966 he produced and sang his first record 'Sweet Song For My Baby' (track 4 on this album). Ken Boothe introduced him to producers and he finally ended up with Ken Lack. He had started the Carltone label and he gave Phill his own label 'Jon Tom' to release his own productions. Thanks to his experience as musician and singer Phil was able to understand the artists recording for him, and thanks to the business like approach of the Carltone collective Phil was able to work with some great musicians."

That is the purist's description, the backstory information that people who are into buying vinyl like to know backwards and forwards. Not me, however, I just love this record, especially the Boothe tracks. You could do a lot worse than about 9 bucks on the Pressure Sounds website for two records full of rare rocksteady gems. You'll hear more than a few of them on the rude roots radio show.



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