Brian Keyo: Rocksteady Primer, Digital Pirates and Reissue Issues

Brian Keyo, as our buddy JJ Loy pointed out, has “been given unprecedented access to music vaults and written some of the most definitive liner notes about this music” and next to a few other gentlemen like Laurence Cane-Honeysett, who oversees the Trojan catalog, has the background to prove it.

He’s written notes for Derrick Morgan releases on Reggae Retro, one of the most over looked gems in the Skatalites’ catalog: Lester Sterling’s retrospective Sterling Silver on Sterling’s own Echo label, and plenty of Heartbeat collections including Something Special: Ska Hot Shots by Rolando Alphonso, Ska After Ska After Ska, Foundation Ska and Tribute To Jackie Mittoo.

Well he’s now laid down a very thorough primer on Rocksteady complete with pictures and a list of the most if not all of the groups that recorded in that short time period. It’s a great read indeed. Go to his site now to read From The Aces To The Zodiacs, A Primer in Jamaican Rock Steady and learn a thing or two while you are at it.

After reading that you can then head over to a more current interview with Brian by Big Shot Zine from Germany. In it Brian discusses recent issues you might have heard about concerning Rock A Shocka and Dub Store Studio One reissues, digital piracy, why Prince Buster can’t do a better job at reissuing his own material and youtube/podcast music streaming.

He offers some harsh notes specifically about the recent Studio One reissue from Rock A Shocka I mentioned yesterday and goes on to discuss the Merritone podcasts he offers for download on his site, why that’s ok, and how/why artists are not seeing as much money from the recent flood of reissues on the market.

He is also working on an expanded Merritone article for his site that I am sure will be just as indepth as the other projects he has put together. Check is site for updates.

I have to say that since I myself am doing some reissues, and those of us that want to try make the music available again, for the most part act in good faith to secure the rights to these releases. There are bad ones sure. While there will probably always be disagreements over so many aspects of the music, inherent to the very nature of Jamaican recording and contracts, I doubt anyone would to go as much trouble as Rock A Shocka does without having some form of a contract in place. I’ve talked to Tommy, he’s spun in LA before, hung out in London recently and he’s always come across as genuine. He posted the following messsage to his Facebook page when the issue was first brought to his attention:

I had big shock this morning….. Dub Store Sound inc (JAPAN) wrote about Rock A Shacka Made Studio 1 Bootleg on his website. I don’t know what does he want ???? We never press bootleg records in our business.

Brian has his supporters and detractors as we all do for so many reasons we won’t get into. Read the articles and make your own calls. Either way you learn something new everyday and with Ska, Rocksteady and Reggae class is always in session.

I've been involved in the Los Angeles music scene since at least 1995 going to shows, promoting, spinning records and running labels. Ska and Early Reggae are my passion among other things of course.