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Safe Travel With Phil Pratt & Friends 1966 - 1968

Phil Pratt & Friends | Pressure Sounds | PSLP047


Phil Pratt’s most sought after sides from 1966 to 1968 brimful of musical honesty, lyrical sincerity and unadorned beauty.

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Format: Vinyl
Categories: All Records, Reggae
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.


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