Live music in Jamaica in the 1950s was hard to come by for inner city residents, with all the talented musicians often taking more lucrative gigs at the white resorts on the outskirts of Kingston. Duke Reid and Sir Coxsone filled this void by playing American funk and soul records over huge soundsystems for people to dance to, 20 years before anyone in the States or Europe dreamt of playing records in a nightclub. Fast forward a few decades and Jamaican producers still looked Stateside for inspiration, resulting in the sort of recordings present on this excellent compilation of reggae disco covers from London’s Soul Jazz Records. Hustle! Reggae Disco was originally released on CD and double vinyl all the way back in 2002, when both Reggae and Disco were only in their 9th revival period (what are we at now, I’ve lost count), and has been out of print ever since. The music lovers at Soul Jazz breathe new life into the project with five new tracks cut from the same cloth as the original 8 and spread the collection over three heavy slabs of vinyl. Worth it solely for Sharon Forrester's version of "Love Don't Live Here Anymore” (good luck finding that original 7” for less than a hundo). Blood Sisters' rendition of "Ring My Bell" was recently issued on 45 by reggae-disco enthusiasts Ximeno Records (Jennifer Lara's version of Evelyn Hunt's "I'm In Love" would make a great addition to this collection) but appears here in full with the smoked-out dub version taking up the second half. Soul Jazz gather these versions with broad strokes, as the source material is not always straight-up disco but rendered more floor-ready with a Caribbean touch (as in Ernest Ranglin's version of The Dramatics' "In The Rain”). Some covers actually manage to upstage their source material, like Black Harmony's infectious version of Jean Carn's "Don't Let It Go To Your Head”, one of the compilation’s highlights. Hustle! Reggae Disco is chock full of sure-shots that work at peak time or as transition records, and is a no-brainer for purveyors of Reggae OR Disco. Recommended.
- expanded triple vinyl version
- digital download included
- music label: Soul Jazz 2017
reviewed by peanut dust 04/2017