Sunday, July 13, 2014

Gussie Clarke's 'Right Tracks' In The Spotlight

Gussie Clarke: A man and his hits
Leroy Sibles, Augustus Pablo, The Mighty Diamonds and Jacob Miller. Some of the biggest names in foundation reggae music passed through his studio, and graced his hits. Pioneering producer Augustus "Gussie" Clarke, founder of Music Works studio, is being honored with several new digital and vinyl reissues this summer. 

Clarke had been recording since the 1970s–including Big Youth's seminal album Screaming Target–when, in 1988, the song "Rumors" by Gregory Isaacs, and the subsequent versions by JC Lodge ("Telephone Love") and Shabba Ranks ("Telephone Love Deh Pon Mi Mind") took the world by storm. 

His success following was nearly unparalleled in reggae at the time, charting with Shabba, Cocoa Tea, Deborahe Glasgow ("Champion Lover"), Home T ("Pirates") Lady G, Maxi Priest and Brian & Tony Gold. He even recorded one of the few duet albums by Gregory Isaacs and Dennis Brown (No Contest). Wikipedia lists his exhaustive discography, but for collectors and fans of '70s and '80s reggae, some new reissues should reveal more about Clarke's early work, much of which is totally out of print on vinyl or unavailable digitally.

During his peak in the late-80s and early-90s, Clarke's crisp, digital reggae sound was cleaner and more modern sounding than even dancehall pioneer King Jammy's output at the time. It was also the era of hitmakers like Donovan Germain at Penthouse Studio, and Bobby Digital at Digital B, but Clarke's Music Works songs stood out for their rich, melodic production and fresh, talented singers. To this day, Music Works studio is an in-demand facility for both Jamaican and international acts.

Gussie Clarke Presents The Right Tracks, a compilation album from 1976, will be reissued digitally, on LA and in a 7" single box set format in coming months. The set features rare productions with melodica master Augustus Pablo, crooners Horace Andy and Heptones' Leroy Sibles, plus classic DJs I-Roy and Trinity. The double CD set drops July 22, while the vinyl box set hits the streets in August.

Best of all, an album of rare August Pablo dubs produced by Clarke  (titled Born To Dub You) is slated for an August 25 release. If that weren't enough, a collection of Music Works hits from the late-80s and '90s are slated for issue this fall.

Gussie Presenting The Right Sevens (out August 5)

Disc 1
A. Leroy Smart – Pride And Ambition
B. Old Boys Inc. – Pride Version

Disc 2
A. Leroy Sibbles – No, No, No
B. The Society Squad – The Killer Version

Disc 3
A. Roman Stewart – Try Me
B. Simplicity People featuring Big Youth

Disc 4
A. Leroy Sibbles – Guiding Star
B. Augustus Pablo – Classical Illusion

Disc 5
A. Gregory Isaacs – Oh No I Can’t Believe
B. Augustus Pablo – Believe A Dub

Disc 6
A. The Mighty Diamonds – Danger In Your Eyes
B. Tommy McCook – Danger In Your Dub

Disc 7
A. Mikey Dread – Proud To Be Black
B. Augustus ‘Gussie’ Clarke – Black Foundation