To say Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One was just a reggae label is like calling Master Splinter just a rat. Studio One may not be the birthplace of reggae and ska (or it might be) but it is easy to say it was the Abbey Road of Jamaica.
I was beyond stoked to find that Soul Jazz, one of my favorite record labels of the millenium, put out a book chronicling the art of Studio One. The Album Cover Art of Studio One Records is a nostalgia trip and an inspiring look at early DIY recording and album marketing both on the island and off of it. The book is neatly divided into 8 sections – artists, calypso, dub, gospel, showcase, labels, disco and versions. It also contains hundreds of full-size classic album covers, alternate sleeves, exclusive photographs, original flyers, and artist interviews from acts like The Skatalites, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Burning Spear, Ken Boothe, Toots And The Maytals, Sugar Minott, Dillinger, and every other major player in the game.
Not unlike many jazz labels of the time, Studio One blended photography and bold typography. Yet there are characteristics that bleed Jamaican nationalism and the love of music. Maybe it’s the off beat style, rough edges, unfinished feel, and disregard for the rules. No matter. This feels like a perfect visual representation of music from a new nation. Kudos to Soul Jazz for bringing it all back to life.