With the wealth of compilations from the Studio One vaults that Heartbeat has made available, it can get harder and harder with the passing years to organize them around fresh themes. The concept driving the selection of the 18 songs from 1966-1979 comprising When Rhythm Was King seems to be, in large but not whole part, to present original versions of numerous tracks that have been "versioned" many times since their initial release - more than 100 times in some cases, according to the liner notes. Muddying the clarity, there are also a few recordings which are themselves "versions" of Studio One releases. While the practice of multiple "versions," or covers, of well-liked songs in general (and these songs in particular) is the angle emphasized in this CD's annotation, it's perhaps better approached by the general reggae fan as simply a good varied compilation of assorted Studio One productions from the era, some of which are off the beaten track and not easy to find on reissues. Some pretty big reggae names are represented, including the Heptones, Bob Andy, Sugar Minott, Dillinger, Alton Ellis, and Dennis Brown; some relatively unfamiliar artists to the non-reggae specialist are mixed in as well. While reggae versions are often known for taking some liberties with the structure and arrangement of the original prototypes, most of these cuts are, in contrast, pretty down-to-earth songs and performances, with some great romantic singing even on some fairly unheralded recordings, like Basil Daley's 1968 single "Hold Me Baby" and (from the same year) Ernest Wilson's "Undying Love."
To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your version of Flash Player.