Heartbeat Records continues its refurbishing of the fabled Studio One reggae catalog with today’s release of the compilation “Six the Hard Way,” which is both a pet project and the fulfillment of a secret dream of sorts for Heartbeat boss Chris Wilson.
Taking its name from the 1974 film “Three the Hard Way,” featuring former football star Jim Brown, the disc collects vintage tracks from six Studio One artists, all songs from albums that will not be pressed again — at least by Heartbeat. “These titles were going to be deleted from our catalog,” says Wilson. “But I just couldn’t let go. I love these songs.”
For years, Wilson, a longtime collaborator with late Studio One chief Coxsone Dodd, has been looking for an opportunity to produce an album carrying a version of the movie’s title. “It’s just such a cool name,” he says. The disc’s cover is also on a take on the original film poster for “Three the Hard Way,” which Wilson has had rolled up in a tube for years.
If Studio One, recognized as the Motown of Jamaica, is known for its early recordings of such roots reggae pioneers as Bob Marley and the original Wailers, Toots & the Maytals and Burning Spear, “Six the Hard Way” features such little-known talents as Slim Smith, the Termites, the Cables, Larry Marshall, the Viceroys and Willie Williams. The disc also features Williams’ original reggae version of “Armagideon Time,” which was later recorded by the Clash.
“Six the Hard Way” is the 12th Studio One reissue title to come out this year. Among the collections slated for 2007 is a Marley/Wailers rarities set, a best-of collection from the Heptones and rare tracks from late Skatalites trombonist Don Drummond, a towering figure in the development of ska.
The next wave of single-disc reissues include Johnny Osbourne’s 1980 album “Truth and Rights,” Horace Andy’s “Mr. Bassie,” Lee “Scratch” Perry’s 1989 album “Chicken Scratch,” Lone Ranger’s 1984 outing “On the Other Side of Dub” and Dennis Alcapone’s 1971 effort “Forever Version.”