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Label Hall of Fame

Treasure IsleText by Harry Hawks

Treasure Isle was not only the home of some of the best ska, greatest rock steady and groundbreaking reggae but was also the birthplace of the deejay and dub phenomenon.
Date Added: Jun 19, 2007, Date Updated: Jan 28, 2010 Copyright (C) 2017 Dub Store Sound Inc.
Place of Establishment
Jamaica
Kingston
Founder:
Duke Reid
Producer(s):
Duke Reid
Engineer(s):
Byron ‘Baron’ / ’Smithy’ Smith
Errol Brown
Main Studio(s)
Treasure Isle Studio
Related Artist(s)
Alton Ellis
Hopeton Lewis
Jamaicans
Justin Hinds
Melodians
Paragons
Phyllis Dillon
Skatalites
Tommy McCook
U Roy
Dennis Alcapone
Three Tops
Stranger Cole
Techniques
Related Label(s)
Studio One
High Note
Gay Feet
Arthur 'Duke' Reid was born in 1915 and, during his ten years of service with the Jamaican Police Force, became a champion marksman. After retiring from the Jamaican Police Force the Duke set up the Treasure Isle Liquor Store in Pink Lane, Kingston. It is no exaggeration to state that the course he had embarked upon would, by the end of the century, radically alter our understanding of the popular music making process.

In 1953, Duke Reid became one of the first independent entrepreneurs to sponsor his own radio show: 'Treasure Isle Time' on R.J.R. which promoted his liquor store, his rum bar and his sound system. Duke Reid's sound overcame all opposition through the weight and clarity of his amplification and his exclusive selection of hard driving American rhythm & blues 78rpm records. He was crowned Kingston's undisputed 'King Of Sound And Blues' in 1956, 1957 & 1958 but, as the decade drew to a close, the audiences in the U.S.A. turned towards a softer, less abrasive music. Kingston's sound system operators now began to make their own rhythm & blues recordings and their custom cut acetate 'reference discs' became so popular that many of them started to be released commercially as vinyl pressings.

Duke Reid's productions from the period were built around the sound of American rhythm & blues but, in 1960, he stepped back from the music business only to return two years later with 'Rough And Tough' credited to 'The Stranger', actually Wilburn Stranger Cole, an unmistakably Jamaican record and a massive hit. The liquor store had relocated to Bond Street where, in 1964, the Duke built his own recording studio on top of the retail premises. The wooden construction of the Treasure Isle Recording Studio gave the recordings warmth and richness and, over the next ten years, endless classic records were produced there with resident engineer Byron 'Baron'/'Smithy' Smith at the controls.

'Tommy McCook & His Ska-talite' made the music for the majority of the Duke's ska recordings and, when The Skatalites broke up in the summer of 1965, Tommy became the leader and musical co-director of the Treasure Isle house band: Tommy McCook & The Supersonics. The Duke came into his own the following year with the arrival of rock steady and the Treasure Isle sound proved to be the elegant epitome of this ice cool music. However, Duke Reid's wildly unorthodox approach to production was often at odds with the relaxed perfection of the final results.

"... If you went in his studio he'd say 'What you come in here for man? You have any business?' And he'd fire a shot over your head so the people did run... so everybody used to be kinda scared of Duke. But Duke would come to you and say 'I want you to do this' and he'd say 'bop bop' and then say 'No! Listen again... be bop boof'. Him say 'Yes!' and they'd say 'Duke it nah go fit the chords' and Duke would say 'Try it... you try it and make I see!' and then he'd fire two more shots. The men got busy! He used to get the best out of them... that's why he had so much hits." Bunny Striker Lee

Towards the end of 1968 the music sped up to the faster reggae style rhythm and a new generation of producers came to the fore. Treasure Isle fought to hold its own against these newcomers and the following year the Duke recruited Lee 'Scratch' Perry(Lee Perry) for 'Lock Jaw' which showcased the seriously underrated singer and deejay Dave Barker. 'Lock Jaw', credited to 'Upsetter' and released on Treasure Isle, was one of the very first records to indicate the direction that would dominate the music for the remainder of the century: dub and deejays.

The stories of either King Tubby or Ruddy Redwood taking out the vocals for special mixes of 'You Don't Care' or 'On The Beach' to make the first 'version' have been repeated many times. No-one can now be certain as to who really was the first but no-one can argue about the fact that it was a Treasure Isle rhythm that gave birth to the version and, eventually, dub.

King Tubby's Home Town Hi Fi with Ewart 'U Roy' Beckford on the mic. played versions of songs where only snippets of the original lyrics remained. Other Jamaican deejays, including Dennis Alcapone, also started to develop their own individual style of 'toasting' while 'riding the rhythm' and U Roy then transferred the excitement generated in the dance hall to the recording studio. Using some of Treasure Isle's greatest rock steady recordings as their starting point U Roy and the Duke began to make musical history together: their first three seven inch records 'Wake The Town', 'Wear You To The Ball' and 'Rule The Nation' held the top three spots simultaneously in the Jamaican Hit Parade in 1970. These recordings established an entirely new musical form and the 'Version Galore' album which followed proved to be one of the most important records ever made.

"U Roy is not a singer. He plays no musical instruments. He just deejays. Makes the sounds which create excitement when the music goes round. His comments are dubbed on to tapes of versions – instrumental arrangements of tunes." 'Version Galore'

The next critical phase in Jamaica's musical development, Rastafarian influenced rebel music, meant very little to the Duke: always an establishment figure with a great respect for authority the insurrectionist role ran contrary to all that he believed in. He was never a man that could be accused of following fashions and had once refused to allow Dennis AlCapone to record a Rasta lyric telling him:

"Myself, I am Babylon" Duke Reid

Duke Reid died from cancer in 1974 and his nephew, Errol Brown, who had been a junior engineer at Treasure Isle, took over the studio controls. Mrs. Sonia Pottinger of High Note and Gay Feet kept Treasure Isle in the musical spotlight with a comprehensive reissue programme of Duke Reid's music through her Disc Pressers Limited company. The faultless 'Hottest Hits Volumes One & Two' long players, which featured some of the Duke's greatest rock steady recordings, alerted a new generation to the beauty of his Bond Street catalogue. Over the ensuing decades the majority of his music has been made available again on a range of compilations and reissues on a number of different formats.

The understated brilliance of the Treasure Isle rock steady rhythms was the perfect starting point for the musical experiments of the deejays and the dub remixing engineers. This music not only broke the sound barriers but also overthrew countless cultural and artistic preconceptions and the name and the music of Duke Reid will live on forever.

"Duke made his own things and Duke was one of the greatest producers we had. He had his own style and everything". Bunny Striker Lee
Jun 19, 2007 (Jan 28, 2010 Update) Text by Harry Hawks
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Hit Titles
Phyllis Dillon - One Life To Live
CD Phyllis Dillon - One Life To Live Treasure Isle
  
¥2380 (US$21.37)
Add To Want List
Various - Birth Of Ska
LP Various - Birth Of Ska Treasure Isle
¥1480 (US$13.29)
Add To Want List
Techniques - Little Did You Know
LP Techniques - Little Did You Know Treasure Isle
¥1480 (US$13.29)
Add To Want List
Alton Ellis - Mr. Soul Of Jamaica
LP Alton Ellis - Mr. Soul Of Jamaica Treasure Isle
  
¥1680 (US$15.08)
Add To Want List
Don Drummond - Greatest Hits
LP Don Drummond - Greatest Hits Treasure Isle
  
¥1680 (US$15.08)
Add To Want List
Paragons - On The Beach: Rock Steady Beat (ジャケットダメージ)
LP Paragons - On The Beach: Rock Steady Beat (ジャケットダメージ) Treasure Isle UK
  
¥2780 (US$24.96)
Add To Want List
Various - Hottest Hits Volume 1
LP Various - Hottest Hits Volume 1 Treasure Isle
  
¥1980 (US$17.78)
Add To Want List
Various - Hottest Hits Volume 2
LP Various - Hottest Hits Volume 2 Treasure Isle
  
¥1680 (US$15.08)
Add To Want List
Various - Hottest Hits Volume 3
LP Various - Hottest Hits Volume 3 Treasure Isle
  
¥2080 (US$18.68)
Add To Want List
U Roy - Version Galore
LP U Roy - Version Galore Treasure Isle
  
¥1980 (US$17.78)
Add To Want List
Justin Hinds - Carry Go Bring Come
7" Justin Hinds - Carry Go Bring Come Treasure Isle Carry Go Bring Come
  
¥850 (US$7.63)
Add To Want List
Stranger Cole - Stranger At Your Door
7" Stranger Cole - Stranger At Your Door Treasure Isle US
  
¥840 (US$7.54)
Add To Want List
Alton Ellis - Breaking Up
7" Alton Ellis - Breaking Up Treasure Isle UK
  
¥1180 (US$10.60)
BUY
Alton Ellis - Duke Of Earl
7" Alton Ellis - Duke Of Earl / Paragons - Riding High Treasure Isle (other) Duke Of Earl B: Riding High
  
¥570 (US$5.12)
Add To Want List
Alton Ellis - Rock Steady
7" Alton Ellis - Rock Steady Treasure Isle (other)
  
¥850 (US$7.63)
Add To Want List
Paragons - Happy Go Lucky Girl
7" Paragons - Happy Go Lucky Girl Treasure Isle (other)
  
¥850 (US$7.63)
Add To Want List
Paragons - Tide Is High
7" Paragons - Tide Is High Treasure Isle (other) Tide Is High
  
¥840 (US$7.54)
Add To Want List
Dobby Dobson - Loving Pauper
7" Dobby Dobson - Loving Pauper / Silvertones - Midnight Hour Treasure Isle UK Loving Pauper
  
¥1180 (US$10.60)
BUY
Jamaicans - Ba Ba Boom
7" Jamaicans - Ba Ba Boom / Phyllis Dillion - Close To You Treasure Isle (other) Ba Ba Boom
  
¥570 (US$5.12)
Add To Want List
Melodians - Come On Little Girl
7" Melodians - Come On Little Girl Treasure Isle Come On Little Girl
  
¥850 (US$7.63)
Add To Want List
Paragons - On The Beach
7" Paragons - On The Beach Treasure Isle (other)
  
¥700 (US$6.29)
Add To Want List
Phyllis Dillon - Don't Stay Away
7" Phyllis Dillon - Don't Stay Away / Paragons - Yellow Bird Treasure Isle A: Don't Stay Away
  
¥850 (US$7.63)
Add To Want List
Phyllis Dillon - Don't Touch My Tomato
7" Phyllis Dillon - Don't Touch My Tomato / Tommy McCook - Don On Bond Street Treasure Isle US
  
¥850 (US$7.63)
Add To Want List
Phyllis Dillon - Perfidia
7" Phyllis Dillon - Perfidia Treasure Isle Perfidia
  
¥850 (US$7.63)
Add To Want List
Phyllis Dillon, Alton Ellis - Right Track
7" Phyllis Dillon, Alton Ellis - Right Track / Phyllis Dillion - Rock Steady Treasure Isle
  
¥850 (US$7.63)
Add To Want List
Techniques - Queen Majesty
7" Techniques - Queen Majesty / Tommy McCook - Mabrook Wailing Treasure Isle Queen Majesty
  
¥850 (US$7.63)
Add To Want List
Techniques - You Don't Care
7" Techniques - You Don't Care / Dennis Alcapone - Great Wooyie Treasure Isle You Don't Care
  
¥850 (US$7.63)
Add To Want List
Alton Ellis - La La Means I Love You
7" Alton Ellis - La La Means I Love You / Melodians - Passion Love Treasure Isle UK La La Means I Love You/Precious
  
¥1180 (US$10.60)
BUY
John Holt - Ali Baba
7" John Holt - Ali Baba Treasure Isle (other) Ali Baba
  
¥850 (US$7.63)
Add To Want List
John Holt - Stealing
7" John Holt - Stealing Treasure Isle UK Stealing B: Alibaba
  
¥1180 (US$10.60)
BUY
Recent Arrivals
Tylon Taylor - This World Was Mine
7" Tylon Taylor - This World Was Mine / Super Sonics - Baba Explosion Treasure Isle UK
  
¥1480 (US$13.29)
BUY
Best selling CD(s)
Alton Ellis - Mr. Soul Of Jamaica (CD-R)
CD Alton Ellis - Mr. Soul Of Jamaica (CD-R) Treasure Isle UK
  
¥2480 (US$22.27)
BUY
Various - Hottest Hits Volume 2
CD Various - Hottest Hits Volume 2 Treasure Isle
  
¥2380 (US$21.37)
BUY
>>more
Best selling LP(s)
Phyllis Dillon - One Life To Live (Compiled at UK)
LP Phyllis Dillon - One Life To Live (Compiled at UK) Treasure Isle UK
  
¥2180 (US$19.57)
BUY
Alton Ellis - Mr. Soul Of Jamaica
LP Alton Ellis - Mr. Soul Of Jamaica Treasure Isle UK
  
¥2480 (US$22.27)
BUY
Skatalites - Skatalite (Coloured Vinyl)
LP Skatalites - Skatalite (Coloured Vinyl) Treasure Isle UK
  
¥4980 ¥4400 (US$39.51)
BUY
Don Drummond - Greatest Hits
LP Don Drummond - Greatest Hits Treasure Isle/Patete EU
  
¥3780 (US$33.94)
BUY
>>more
Best selling 7"(s)
John Holt - Stealing
7" John Holt - Stealing Treasure Isle UK Stealing B: Alibaba
  
¥1180 (US$10.60)
BUY
Alton Ellis - La La Means I Love You
7" Alton Ellis - La La Means I Love You / Melodians - Passion Love Treasure Isle UK La La Means I Love You/Precious
  
¥1180 (US$10.60)
BUY
Phyllis Dillon - Don't Stay Away
7" Phyllis Dillon - Don't Stay Away / Tommy McCook, Supersonics - Starry Night Treasure Isle UK Don't Stay Away
  
¥1180 (US$10.60)
BUY
Phyllis Dillon - Rock Steady
7" Phyllis Dillon - Rock Steady / Tommy McCook - Soul Rock Treasure Isle UK Rock Steady
  
¥1180 (US$10.60)
BUY
Dobby Dobson - Loving Pauper
7" Dobby Dobson - Loving Pauper / Silvertones - Midnight Hour Treasure Isle UK Loving Pauper
  
¥1180 (US$10.60)
BUY
>>more
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