❉ Another fascinating compilation of reggae tracks from the vaults of Arthur ‘Duke’ Reid.
The penultimate Doctor Bird compilation of reggae tracks from the vaults of Arthur “Duke” Reid’s Treasure Isle Records Super Bad! contains fifty tracks – over half of which have never appeared on CD before – and covers just about everything between 1971 and 1973 that has not already released on artist-themed previous Doctor Bird compilations including hits and hidden gems from the likes of the Melodians, The Tennors, Errol Dunkley, Pat Kelly and Justin Hines and the Dominoes.
With his studios at 33 Bond Street, Kingston, Jamaica, Duke Reid continued to release great quality stuff in this transitional period for reggae. Trojan Records had discontinued the Treasure Isle imprint in 1971 but under the fifty-six-year old Reid (who had spent a decade in the business by this stage) and his sound engineer nephew Errol Brown (who had replaced previous engineer Byron ‘Baron’ Smith) the studio continued to record and release strong tracks largely under the title ‘Duke Reid’s Greatest Hits’.
This is another fascinating compilation and it is hard to know why some of these tracks have never really been re-released before. A strong voice on both discs is Cynthia Richards who does a brilliant funky cover of the Belgian group Chakacha’s track Jungle Fever as well as covering the classic Brown Dots song Sentimental Reasons. She also appears on the second disc with a cover of Betty Wright’s Clean Up Woman (Clean Up Woman and Jungle Fever were supposedly both recorded hastily for a double-A-side and both sound great).
Both discs contain many rarities and stalwart studio tenor sax player Tommy McCook appears on many tracks. Stand-out tracks on the first disc are the romantic Broken-Hearted Melody by Delroy Denton which harks back to the earlier rock steady sound, Pirate by the Ethiopians which seems to be an attack on a rival producer and the lovely Guess I This Riddle by Eddie Ford. Weather Report by the Tenors, with a brilliant hook based on Paul Simon’s The Only Living Boy in New York, is also great as is Dorothy Russell’s You’re The One I Love.
The second disc features more established singers and artists as well as unknowns. Toots Hibbert makes a solo credited appearance on Feel the Spirit. The Melodians have two great tracks including Passion Love, with its sweet horns and voices. Errol Dunkley sings Where Must I Go and there’s a lovely cover of Dylan’s Just Like A Woman by Pat Kelly.
All in all, Doctor Bird is providing a great history of this important reggae label with these releases.
❉ ‘Super Bad! Hits & Rarities from The Treasure Isle Vaults (1971-1973)’ (Doctor Bird DBCDD099) was released 8 April 2022 by Cherry Red Records, RRP £11.99. Click here to order directly from Cherry Red Records.
❉ James Collingwood is based in West Yorkshire and has been writing for a number of years. He currently also writes for the Bradford Review magazine for which he has conducted more than 30 interviews and has covered music, film and theatre. His Twitter is @JamesCollingwo1