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Channel One

Let it grow, Mister Gardener!

Recording studio

b. Jamaica, West Indies. One of four brothers involved with music from an early age (the other brothers were Kenneth, Ernest and Paulie) Joe Joe and his brother, Ernest, started on the bottom rung of the entertainment industry ladder controlling juke boxes and one-armed bandits, but in 1970 the Jamaican government outlawed gaming machines. This gave the brothers a push up the ladder because they then decided to branch out and build their own recording studio — Channel One — in the heart of the Kingston ghetto on Maxfield Avenue. At first Joe Joe hired veteran Sid Bucknor as engineer because none of his family was particularly adept at the technical side of the business, but before long Ernest took over at the mixing desk literally picking it up as he went along. By this time the Hookims also had their own pressing plant and label printing workshop—a truly independent family business. Channel One slowly established a name for itself with releases on a variety of different labels from established singers such as Leroy Smart, Junior Byles and Horace Andy, but it was when the Mighty Diamonds started work for them that everything came together and after the release of "Right Time" in 1976 nothing ever seemed to go wrong for them. The Diamonds obviously had a lot to offer but what was exciting and different about their records was the ‘ rockers’ rhythm dominated by ‘militant’ double drumming courtesy of Sly Dunbar of their in-house Revolutionaries band. The sound was to influence the entire Jamaican music business for the next two years with every producer on the island coming up with their own variaton of the beat. 

The bestsellers never stopped coming from the Channel with the Diamonds along with DJs Dillinger and Trinity plus countless instrumental records from the Revolutionaries controlling the charts. Joe Joe said that he felt embarrassed sometimes to see up to nine out of the Top 10 records on his own Well Charge label! A lot of the rhythms were ‘do-overs’ of Studio One classics, which caused friction, and Joe Joe came in for criticism. He has, however, always been open about the fact that he has copied Coxsone Dodd's rhythms. Throughout the '70s and on into the mid-80s the Maxfield Avenue Studio was in constant demand by artists and producers all hoping to capture a bit of the magic and in 1979 the set up was updated to sixteen tracks to accommodate the demand. The Hookim brothers were the first to introduce 12-inch 45 rpm records to Jamaica with "Truly" by the Jayes [1976/1977?](a version of an old Marcia Griffiths Studio One hit) which was released with a DJ version by Ranking Trevor. The dynamic range of these 12-inch releases was a vast improvement on the 7-inch with far more bass and treble and the 12-inch Disco-Mix went on to become an integral part of reggae music with vocal, DJ and instrumental cuts of the same rhythm all together on one release. Less successful were the Channel One Economic Packages—7-inch releases that played at 331/3 rpm with vocal and DJ pieces of the same rhythm but, sadly, the sound quality left much to be desired and these were soon discontinued. Joe Joe founded a New York branch of Channel One and in the early '80s their future looked assured as he released a highly successful and much imitated series of Clash albums from the USA—one different artist on each side. Even with hindsight it is difficult to see just what went wrong at Channel One, but the Kingston and New York operations were summarily shut down in the late '80s and the Hookim brothers are no longer active in the music business. Their insight and innovations are greatly missed.

Jo Jo Hookim

Roots Radics

Somewhere late in 1979 the Roots Radics laid down the riddims for Barrington Levy's first tunes for producer Junjo Lawes, credited at the time as the Channel One Stars. No one could envisage the importance of these sessions, but with hindsight we can point back to them as the inception of Jamaican dancehall music. After this the band was constantly in demand for session work. Dwight Pickney remembers playing on an astounding 34 tracks, in one straight session for producer Junjo Lawes. [...]


Apprentice to King Tubby and later resident engineer at Channel One [...]

Sound of Channel One - King Tubby

Sound of Channel One - King Tubby [Amazon.com]

Disc: 1 1. Stop Look What You're Doin' - Delroy Wilson 2. Stop Look Dub - King Tubby 3. Dance Hall Vibes - Jim Brown 4. Vibes Dub - King Tubby 5. Headline News 6. Headlines Dub - King Tubby 7. 10 Times 7 8. 10 Times Dub - King Tubby 9. Rockin' of the Ten Tousand 10. Dubbin' of the Ten Tousand - King Tubby 11. Babylon a Turn Dem Back 12. Turn Back Dub - King Tubby 13. Dub One - King Tubby Disc: 2 1. I Got Love 2. I Got Dub - King Tubby 3. You Have My Heart - Delroy Wilson 4. Dub My Heart - King Tubby 5. Alphabet Song 6. Alphabet Dub - King Tubby 7. I'm Gonna Tell You My Mind 8. I'm Gonaa Dub You My Mind - King Tubby 9. Babylon You Must Go Down 10. Dub You Must Go Down - King Tubby 11. Diplomatic Link 12. Diplomatic Dub - King Tubby 13. Nanny Goat - Larry Marshall 14. Nanny Goat Dub - Larry Marshall
Let's give this one its due: A collection of excellent Channel One 45's from the early eighties (probably), with Tubby's looming large and in charge on the version sides. Proto-dancehall deejay, Badoo, makes several enjoyable appearances (including Diplomatic Link, an obscure report on deteriorating Cuban-Jamaican political relations), but the show is well and truly stolen by Delroy Wilson's super-soulful Stop Look What You're Doing and Desmond Irie's ultra-rare righteous roots number, Babylon You Must Go Down. Overall, this is a superior collection which showcases the late, great Tubby's elemental dub styling at its laid-back best, and, as an added bonus, is mostly compiled in disco format so that the original sides meld seamlessly with the stripped-down version. A solid four-stars, but I'll give it five to pull the rating up to its proper place...Forward dis ya dub!

If you liked this one, then you might want to check out Pressure Sounds' superb Firehouse Revolution compilation. Seek and ye shall find... -- wilymanc for amazon.com [...]

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