Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Compass Point

“I don’t believe anything could ever sum it up, like nothing could ever sum up the Motown or Stax sound. So much goes into the fabric of those sounds: the studio itself, the engineers, the producers, the artists, the vibes of the time, and only the specific combination of elements—even though very disparate sometimes—does the job. And only Chris had the vision to combine an American engineer with Jamaican drum and bass, with British rock guitar, with African-French keyboards. Every film director will admit it: when it comes to directing actors, the main thing is casting.”

-Wally Badarou in the liner notes to Funky Nassau

Although the name Compass Point Studios might not sound all that famous to you (I know it didn't to me until I picked up this disc), the truth of the matter is that there was some off-the-hook music produced there in the early 80's. The studio was set up by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, which was itself formed in Jamaica in the late 50's and which brought reggae music to the world through artists such as Burning Spear, Lee Perry, Toots and the Maytals, and of course, Bob Marley. Compass Point was designed to be Blackwell's own private studio, a place where he could record who he wanted how he wanted.

Because of its location and the diverse members of the house band referenced in the opening quote, many legendary acts came knocking on the door to record at Compass Point including AC/DC, The Rolling Stones, Robert Palmer, The B-52's, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and many, many others. This compilation (thankfully) skips past these well-known artists and instead focuses on lesser know acts for the most part and tracks that have gotten lost in the shuffle and deserve to be dusted off. To go along with some great dusty gems are some incredible liner notes which open a time machine door into the past. For these liner notes alone I would sincerely recommend picking up a solid copy of the album.

The material in the compilation runs from the reggae which Blackwell was known for bringing to the mainstream's attention, to disco infused funk, to new wave courtesy of The Tom Tom Club and the 12" version of their oft-sampled classic Genius of Love (stream it below along with the bizarrely enjoyable Spasticus Autisticus from Ian Dury & The Seven Seas Players). If diggin' for blasts from the past is your thing, this album is sure to butter your popcorn.

Buy Funky Nassau: The Compass Point Story 1980-1986

Visit Strut Record's official site for the compilation.

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