Wed | Jun 19, 2019

Vinyl not only vintage

Published:Tuesday | June 27, 2017 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Michael 'Louis' Owens
Dexter ‘The Ska Professor’ Campbell shows off a small section of his vast vinyl collection.
Chronixx at the board in Anchor Studios, Windsor Avenue, St Andrew, during the recent listening session for his debut album Chronology, which will be available on vinyl, among other playback formats.
Frankie Campbell

Ahead of the organisation's 20th anniversary gathering (called a 'sit-in') of the Vinyl Records Collectors Association (VRCA) in St Andrew and St Catherine late last month, the organisation's Michael 'Louis' Owens dismissed any misconceptions of equating vinyl with vintage. For as record collectors from the organisation's North American chapters packed there precious discs - mostly black - for the plane flight to Jamaica, they could tote along new tunes wit the old ones, Owens naming Tarus Riley among the Jamaican performers with more recent material on vinyl.

And the choices continue to grow. At the recent listening party at Anchor Studios for his debut album, Chronology, Chronixx said that it would be available on July 7 on vinyl, as well as on CD and through streaming. However, Owens noted that most of the vinyl recordings of new material that collectors had access to were manufactured in Europe.

While the vinyl collection of persons such as Dexter 'The Ska Professor' Campbell are vast and famed, his nickname indicating a general leaning in the vintage off the beats he can lay his hands on, new music is available for those who would add to their collections - or start one.

However, Frankie Campbell of the Fab Five Band and the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates (JAVAA), while moving the interest in vinyl, also pointed out that because there are no active manufacturing plants in Jamaica, it has to be dome abroad. This makes the process cumbersome and the cost prohibitive.

"Thirty years ago, we had Sonic, Dynamic, Tuff Gong, GGs, Studio One," he said. The plants went inactive, and many were actually disassembled and sent back abroad. Among the events that led to the slowdown of vinyl in Jamaica, which resulted in the shutdowns, was the start-up of CD manufacturing in Jamaica in the late 1990s.

About six years ago, Campbell said that Fab 5 pressed copies of this 1970s single, Asking For Love, on vinyl, on the request of persons who wanted the song in that format, With those circumstances around the project, it sold. Part of the attraction - and value - is the unique number from the original stamper used for manufacturing.

Still, he said, a number of major Jamaican artistes will have their material released on vinyl - manufactured abroad, of course. And when large companies release a Jamaican project, some copies will be made available on vinyl.

Debbie Bissoon of Tuff Gong said that the company hopes to reopen its Jamaican pressing plant in 2018. However, it has formed an alliance with Sunpress in Miami, through which it has done vinyl pressings of a number of Bob Marley and the Wailers albums, including Exodus, Confrontation and Kaya.

She said that Tuff Gong would will organise to have material by other performers done on vinyl, and already, there have been some requests by Jamaicans.