»I started at Dynamics - roughly about fifteen years ago. I knew an engineer there Graham Goddall. He invited me down there, he wanted a technician to help start fixing up Dynamics Studio, at that time, the name of it was West Indies (Recording Studio) - WIRL. So this is where I started.«

When was it that you went to Studio One ?
»Well, I was by Dynamics for about two years, and er when I left Dynamics - I went immediately to Studio One. That would be about '68.«

Sid Bucknor was the engineer before you at Studio One?
»Yes Sid Bucknor, he was the original engineer.«

How about Dodd himself?
»Well he used to do a lot of mixing, before I came...yes I would say he did a certain amount of mixing before I came, but when I went there the bulk of the work came onto me. He didn't really do much work when I came, and got myself a firm hold on the instruments and so forth.«

So you did all the recording of the original material?
»To be truthful I would say I was both the engineer, the producer and arranger of a lot of those musics, because the majority of times Coxsone wasn't even in the studio so he didn't know what was happening. The most, what would happen is that at times he would do some auditioning, so he would audition the artists and then I would do the actual production as such«

Who were the artists there in'68?
»Let me see now, well there were a lot of artists like the Heptones, Delroy Wilson, Ken Boothe, Dennis Brown, cause he started there as a very young chap.«


Who was the band , Leroy Sibbles...
»Yes Leroy, he used to play bass, and this chap by the name of Bagga.«

Was Jackie Mitto still there?
»Well yes, I would say that between me and him - we used to do a lot of arranging - myself and Jackie. He was the musical man as such, but he left after a while, so myself and Leroy Sibbles started to do a lot of the work.«

Most of the classical rhythms are from these times, the ones that are still recording now.
»Yes, what is happening now is, pratically all of his tunes have been done over by other producers. They sort of use them as a pattern, so it's a standard as such you know.«

So you still recognise all of them, when you hear them?
»Yeah, definitely, you see we used to cut what you call dub plate. So this is how a lot of the tunes got popular. You see what would happen is that the chaps would come and buy the dubs and they would give them a name, these were just rhythm alone - and they would give them a name that they feel. So if the dub gets worn out, or they lose a dub - they would come back and say that they would want this tune, but they would call it the name that they give it! So sometimes they would have to bring back the dub and play it for us, then we can remember the rhythm.«

We have come across tunes on the Studio One dub albums where we don't know the original cut, do you know the original to 'Rub And Scrub' cut by Lone Ranger?
»Rub And Scrub..., no not at this moment. You see what is happening is that so many of them have been done over. And they keep being called a lot of different names, and you get really mixed up with them.«

How about a rhythm called 'Fussing And Fighting' done over by Sugar Minott late 70's early 80's?
»'Fussing & Fighting' to be truthful I can't recall it at this moment. I would have to hear it.«

Its on the 'Showcase' album.
»I can't really recall it.«

What year did you leave Studio One?
»Well lets see was there about 6 years, it was around '74.«

Did you do a lot of LP's at Studio One?
»I did all the mixing, both recording and mixing.«

Did any dub album come out in those days?
»No, I wouldn't say we did any dub albums at the time. It was shortly after that they started doing that. The dub thing was just coming to the fullness at that time, cause like I say - it was brought about to a degree by the sound men because they came and they wanted probably just a rhythm, a particular rhythm. And if you give it to one man, another would want a different version. So you had to improvise - you had to give some a little bass and drum, and some...everyone of them sound different. This is how the drum and bass thing came about.«

So you left Studio One and went straight to Harry J's
»No, well I left, er thats right, but I forgot I left Dynamics and came to Duke Reid. I was by Duke Reid for a short period. I was at Treasure Isle for about 3-4 months, but I didn't like the environment, the actual location, it was a bit too rough, the people in the area. So I didn't stay there too long, but I did one or two tunes with The Jamaicans, even their big hit 'Ba Ba Boom' it was mixed by me, a festival tune.«

When was this about '67/'68?
»Um, roughly about that era.«

When rhythms were made at Studio One - what was the procedure?
»Well Jackie Mittoo had a lot to do with the formulation of bass lines, when he was there. We had a thing going where sometimes we had a tune, and we wanted to do another tune, and we would use the bass line and turn it backwards! So you would get a sound that you was familiar with, but you don't know where it's from. So I would play it, play it from the back to the front instead of the direct way.«

It was just the bass line?
»Yeah, just a bare bass line, it was a method that we used. A lot of people don't know all the things still (laughs). So probably you would have a hit tune - and change the bass line, the same bass, we would use it in so many different ways. We might skip a beat here, put in a beat there, but use the original format.«

Treasure Isle and Studio One have a lot of similar material - Which one was the originator?
»Originator of what?«

Artists like John Holt and Alton Ellis have recorded the same songs for both studios. Which studio recorded them first?
»That would be hard to say. There was a lot of rivalry going on between both studios. They was trying to do each other er...I would say Duke Reid - Treasure Isle had a a certain amount of personality to its sound, but like I said it would be hard to say who was first - I couldn't really part them.«

I feel myself that Duke Reid was first to slow down the beat.
»Yes I would figure that, more or less. He had a certain personality that was in the rock steady vibration.«

Who were the musicians at the Treasure Isle studio during the rock steady era - they were not the same as Studio One?
»No, well, I'm not too certain - like I said, I wasn't at Treasure Isle for any portion of time. I would be able to tell you more about the musicians at Studio One.«


We was just wondering about the type of rhythm that came out of each studio, and why Studio One rhythms sound fresher and so much harder than Treasure Isle rhythms?
»Oh, to be truthful, these chaps they used to have a name that they gave me, they call me 'My Engineer'. Now the reason for that, was that at the time I was very strong in getting the tune to sound a particular way in which I liked. So when they would formulate a rhythm - we tried to get it to sound a particular way. I built a box a bass box - a speaker, an enclosure and we miked it from the back - and we got a special sound. To me I always hear a heavier sound from the back of the box, but it doesn't really penertrate out. If you put a mike there you will get it, and we usually do that. So it had a lot to do with arranging and engineering, cause I don't think they can get back that sound. Even Coxsone himself is still using the old rhythms.«

Was it 4 track in those days?
»No it was 2.«

Two?
»Yeah.«

When did it change over?
»Well, when I left he still have two tracks - then change over to eight. So all those works you hear, have been done on two track. What we actually do, is that we would record the original rhythm the bass and drum on one track, and all the other rhythms on the other track. What we would do then is play it back to the singer, and then record it on another two track, we had two machines. So we would have the whole rhythm on one track, and the voice on the other. And then we probably do another mix to bring the whole together. It was all done on two track.«

How about the other equipment. Some of the musicians we have spoken too have said that the Studio One equipment is the best on the island - keyboards etc?
»You mean now or then?«

Then.
»Well, what I would say is that the organ, a Hammond organ, a B.3, had a very unique sound. I don't think at that time another studio had that particular organ, but to say that the equipment was that good - I myself as an engineer - couldn't really say that.«

What kind of tape recorders did he have?
»Well, he had Ampex, which is good, you know.«

The tape width?
»A quarter inch. Like I said a two track machine, but Ampex is a very good machine, the tape recorder itself, but the actual console which was a 'Lang' or 'Long' was the name of the board, it wasn't top of the line. He had some good equaliser, Pultek equaliser and so forth, which was OK, but what I'm saying is that the sound came from the actual knowledge of myself and the musicians.«

Something we have been very interested in is the echo and reverb machines that he had, and you used.
»Well, to be truthful what we did, what I did, when I came there was to reloop the playback head into the record head - which we used always on voicing - which gave us a very good sound. If you are familiar with a lot of the rhythms you will a hear Sound Dimension piece of equipment that he brought there - one of the echo units - the name of it was Sound Dimension, and we use that on the rhythm guitar a whole lot, when Eric Frater used to play.

So when he played the guitar you could always hear that extra reverb which he used on it. That was one of our main equipment that we used to get a certain sound - Sound Dimension was the name of it. We used AKG mikes on the piano, a unique thing was happening there. Some of the mikes, they weren't sensitive to the bass end of the spectrum, they were more sensitive to the mids and the top end. So we would use them in such a way to get a mixture. It was a unique arrangement, you had to use your imagination to get the right vibration. Even the miking of the drums, at the time. The way you mike drums sophisticated now, having eight mike or more on the drum, we never used to do that. We had about two - so you would get a overall sound of the drum, you have to place it a strategic spot to get everything. You notice on the tunes that you don't get the heavy bass drum beat, but then its together, which made the sound so good.«

Who was the drummer then?
»Horsemouth did a lot of the drumming then. Knibbs did a portion of work too, and Eric Frater.«

He was drumming too?
»No, not Eric, sorry, Phil Callender. And then there was the chaps from Bog Walk - who formed the band the Soul Defenders. There was a lot of different bands that came about, there were mixtures«

Were there any other bass players apart from Bagga & Sibbles, was Lloyd Brevitt still playing?
»Well, when I went there Brevitt was on his way out in terms of the vibration. So he didn't do much, maybe now and again he came in. There was another tall brown chap, who left about 3 weeks after I came in. I can't remember his name, but he was a very tall brown chap. I think he went to Canada, where he used to play with Jackie Mittoo, but most of the works were done by Bagga and Leroy Sibbles.«

With Jackie Mittoo on keyboards?
»Jackie Mittoo on keyboards, yeah.«

And the horns were?
»It was a mixture, there was this chap called Trammie on Trombone, I don't know him by any other name, other than Trammie. Im Brooks, Im Brooks used to do a lot of playing, also David Madden and Vin Gordon.«

Did you rework any ska originals?
»Maybe now and again - he would use those tunes to influence you, but most of these tunes just came up from the musicians and myself. A singer would come along - like Burning Spear, Burning Spear came by Studio One, one day, he said he had a vision that he should come by the studio to sing. So he came and we listened to the songs that he had, and then go into the studio to create a rhythm to suit them.

When I left Studio One I had lost so much time in working...but when I went there I was working like I was the man's son. I got a lot of promises, that didn't really come about. So when I left it was like I tried to erase a lot of it from my memory. I don't try and think about it, I lost to much time doing a lot of work, and not collecting enough for it. Coxsone is a very smart chap, but I think what hurt me the most was his...it seems as if he exploited the youth, he outsmarted then in other words. So you would have to put it that he exploited them. If a man is young, and just coming as a artist he don't really know much. So you can always out smart him. They should have gotten a better deal from him.«

How old was you when you went there?
»I was quite young, about 19...«


By Tero Kaski & Pekka Vuorinen.

ALBUMS SYLVAN MORRIS

Cultural Dub
Harry J, (1977c)US

Morris In Dub
Roosevelt, (1977c)JA