March 2015

March finds Fantastic Voyage journeying far and wide, collecting a wide gamut of influential sounds from historic scenes, ranging from the idyllic glitz of the American West Coast to the vibrant heart of early modern Jamaica. Last month heralded the first vinyl edition of Stuart Colman’s acclaimed ‘Sugar’ series, and this month sees a worthy successor in the form of Savvy Sugar: The Pure Essence of West Coast Rock’n’Roll. A limited edition 2LP set, the material reveals how central Los Angeles was to the development of the West Coast’s own stylistic permutation of the epochal sound sweeping the rest of the country. Driven by the inception of a host of recording studios established in the midst of increasing productiveness, LA – despite its predominant associations being rooted in fame, glamour and Hollywood – displayed seams of rock’n’roll that were both grand and suited to this backdrop but also as raggedly spirited as any rougher style. The important contributions of adept session musicians, many of them gathered from Hollywood sound stages, assured the majesty of these recordings, along with the more focal talents and personalities (including Ricky Nelson, Tommy Sands and Lee Hazlewood protege Sanford Clark) orbiting around an exciting time of unparalleled achievement in foundational Rock’n’Roll.

Our next release this month takes us from the environs of LA to Jamaica, at a vital time of inventive enterprise. The latest in our series charting Jamiacan Sound System Classics documents a newly compiled batch of recordings made famous at early dances compered by Duke Reid and Coxsone Dodd. Some of these recordings were enshrined to such an extent that many DJs of the day scratched out the titles of the record and even invented alternative titles to throw ardent fans and rival DJs off the scent, thus maintaining their exclusiveness to one sound system troupe. The collation of this material is a prospect to covet considering that bygone obscurity and listening to them attests to the reasons why they were held in such precious regard by prominent tastemakers. Both Reid and Dodd favoured the American R & B of the day in their earliest sound system incarnations and this is what compiler and annotator Phil Etgart favours here. However these sides, whilst providing ample gratification for both R & B and Jamaican music fans, also give great insight into the basis for Jamaica’s later homegrown explorations in sound. It’s Jamaica Jump Blues Time! Jamaican Sound System Classics 1941-1962 comes in a 28-track 2LP collector’s edition as well as a 3CD box set.