The Bite Magazine - Autumn/Winter 2019 - Issue 26

Jada Brookes attended the screening of Studio 17: The Lost Reggae Tapes which tells the compelling story of the Chins and the discovered treasure trove of reggae tapes produced by one of Jamaica’s most legendary studios. bite music STUDIO R eggae and dancehall enthusiast Reshma B’s career as a music journalist has seen her conduct extensive in- terviews with most of the top acts in Jamaican music including Shabba Ranks, Supercat, Vybz Kartel, and Popcaan. When she was invited to interview Clive Chin of VP Records, he started to play some reggae tunes she did not rec- ognise. It was from this moment she embarked on a journey of Jamaica’s music revolution and the story behind the lost reggae tapes of Studio 17. Set in downtown Kingston, Jamaica, in the late 1950s, Vincent ‘Randy’ Chin, a Chinese-Jamaican, was working for a jukebox company that changed worn-out records all over the island. Instead of throwing the used records away, Vincent decided to sell them at a reduced price. His wife Pat joined him as he travelled around the island, giving up her career in nursing. Through this venture, the Chins set up Randy’s Records in 1958 just as the spirit of excitement was gripping Jamaica on the verge of change. In that same year, Jamaica and ten other Caribbean countries formed the Federation of the West Indies but it was abandoned in 1961 when Jamaica voted against it. Then in August 1962, the island was granted its independence from England. Amidst the celebration, Vincent produced his first record ‘Independ- ent Jamaica’ sung by Trinidadian singer Lord Creator, who was a popular and charismatic artist at the time. The record became a huge hit and launched Vincent Chin into record production. Relocating the record store to a former ice cream parlour, at 16-17 North Parade, the Chins set up a recording studio above the shop, locally known as Studio 17. Lord Creator went on to record ‘Kingston Town’ which would become a huge hit for UB40 in the 1980s. It also provided a turning point for the original artist who had fallen on hard times. In hospital at the time, the royalties from the cover of his record allowed him to pay off his hospital bills and build a house. During the 1960s and 1970s, Studio 17 saw the world’s most famous reggae artists like Bob Marley and the Wailers, Peter Tosh, Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, John Holt, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Alton Ellis, and Augustus Pablo record there. In the record shop downstairs, Pat would play the test pressings to gauge customer’s reactions which helped her decide which tracks to release. It was thanks to her instinctive decisions that helped Randy’s Records become the major outlet for home- grown music in Jamaica. The Lost Reggae Ta Exterior Randys 1970s