Various Artists

Pressure Sounds * PS47 * 2005

Safe Travel

Safe Travel

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Information

The Caltone collective of producers, musicians and artists was instrumental in creating some of the most beautiful, but less well known, rock steady music ever made. The rock steady explosion of 1966 provided the first truly seamless Jamaican music and its influence has subsequently proved to be timeless. Its rhythms, bass lines and melodies have been returned to and recycled during each successive phase in reggae’s development. At a time when the rest of the musical world was moving towards overblown and overlong concept albums with an extended cast list Jamaica’s musical fraternity were busy stripping their music down to the bare necessities with half a dozen players saying all that had to be said in two and a half minutes on a seven inch single release.

Phil Pratt was born and brought up in Kingston 14 and he first sang in a vocal group with his schoolmates Ken Boothe and Headly Foulding performing at charities and school concerts but they never made any recordings. In 1966 he produced and sang his first record 'Sweet Song For My Baby'. Ken Boothe had already begun to make a name in the music business and knew the influential characters on the scene so he introduced Phil to the great Roy Shirley who took him to Bunny Lee who, in turn, introduced Phil to Ken Lack. Ken had started the Caltone label using the connections he had built up while working with The Skatalites where he surrounded himself with some of the outstanding musicians and singers of both his own and the younger generation becoming a kind of father figure and mentor to his protégés. His faith in Phil led him to make the unprecedented move of giving him his own label, Jon Tom, to release his own productions. Named in honour of the talents of Johnny ‘Dizzy’ Moore and Tommy McCook Phil proudly states that any record released on Jon Tom can be classed as exclusively his production but the fluid nature of the Caltone set up meant that his works (and co-works) would sometimes also appear on the Caltone and Wiggle Spoon labels.

The strength of the Jon Tom releases sprang from a combination of ideas from the artists and musicians that Phil worked with and, drawing on his own experience as a singer and a musician, he was able to understand and empathise fully with them while the business like approach of the Caltone collective ensured that they were always able to secure the services of Kingston’s greatest musicians. Caltone’s musical arranger, Lyn Taitt, was a pivotal figure and as Derrick Morgan recalled: “Lyn Taitt. He’s the man who changed Jamaican music right round from ska to rock steady.” In rock steady the bass no longer gave equal emphasis to every beat but instead played a repeated pattern that syncopated the rhythm and the rhythmic focus shifted to the bass and the drums where it has remained ever since.

The rock steady period lasted for less than two years yet the extent to which it influenced the sound of reggae music is enormous and recognition for its elegant excellence is finally being somewhat belatedly bestowed. The old argument about a ‘collectors’ record being considered good because it is rare rather than because it is actually good can be safely disregarded when it comes to releases on the Jon Tom label. Comprised completely of concentrated creativity these tunes are invariably guaranteed a rapturous reception whenever they are played out at dances on the U.K. revival circuit. Their rarity and desirability amongst collectors means that it would now require an investment of thousands of pounds to own the original seven inch records and Pressure Sounds are proud to be able to present in affordable long playing format, for the first time ever, a selection of some of Phil Pratt’s most sought after sides from 1966 to 1968 brimful of musical honesty, lyrical sincerity and unadorned beauty.

Reviews

Safe Bet with Safe Travel

Lawrence Gibbard Solar Radio, May 09, 2005
Phil Pratt deserved wider recognition and now he has it on the compilation with great tracks as Safe Travel unreleased by Dodd for some reason?
Book of Books another fantastic track
And of course Baby Baby
Over all a top album once again from the boys and girls at Pressure Sounds
With a seven page in lay, just wish it had the publishing dates for the tunes.

PHIL PRATT

LLOYD MULLINGS - (DJ-WARM N EASY) LUR RADIO., Jun 10, 2005
I THINK PHIL PRATT IS A LEGEND IN REGGAE MUSIC.AND NEEDS TO BE MENTIONED MORE OFTEN,AS COXSONE DODD.DUKE REID.AND MANY MORE.AS A PRODUCER & SINGER HE HAS WORKED WITH REGGAE LEGENDS SUCH AS DENNIS BROWN.BIG YOUTH.ETC..AND NOT A LOT KNOW THIS BUT IN THE EARLY SIXTIES & SEVENTIES.PHIL PRATT ADDED HIS TAKE ON REGGAE, AND I THINK THIS ALBUM IS A GREAT ONE AND A TRIBUTE TO HIS WORKS..LONG LIVE REGGAE.AND THE GREAT MAN HIMSELF...

No Need For Emergency Exits

Mike Murphy, Jun 24, 2005
There are no need for emergency exits on this train of true true Rocksteady gems, because, frankly, who the hell would want to get of this train!

Absolutely essential, it doesn't matter if you've never heard Rocksteady, or are a devotee of Lady Saw, there is absolutely no way, no excuse, no reason on earth why this cd shouldn't be in your collection.

It's not just that there are tunes here the 'Cognacenti' will have searched high and low for... for ever, it's not just the good quality mastering of the tunes, nor the packaging & sleeve notes, or the general excellent job we can always expect from PS, but that songs of this quality would shine if they were covered in 50 tonnes of shite...!

Top tune for me on the set is... Alva 'Reggie' Lewis's 'Suicide ( Hang My Head And Cry)' - but they're all killer... all the way.

reaffirmation

marky tradition, Jul 04, 2005
Although Phil Pratt's early reggae recordings are highly appreciated amongst the cogniscenti,I had forgotten about the rocksteady rarities that really got the crowds dancing and competing selectors smiling.The tunes on this compilation represent Jamaican music at its most heart-felt, soulfull and melodious.Immaculate production and performances,the whole of this is stunning and despite the avalanche of quality reggae re-issue ,it don't come better than this.Sublime.

Various Artists — Safe Travel

Dj Sweeney B, Jan 12, 2012
Another Great album by Pressure Sounds showcasing a brilliant and talented individual Phil Pratt. Reggae is much more than C Dodd and Duke Reid ect ect and these albums only educate the mind set even more by bringing these tunes to the listeners ears as these tunes are rare to find as well as rare to hear.

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