Life Between Islands - Soundsystem Culture: Black Musical Expression in the UK 1973-2006

Vinyl 3LP

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Soul Jazz Records new ‘Life Between Islands’ collection coincides with the launch of Tate Britain’s exhibition of the same name. This landmark exhibition explores the links between Caribbean and British art and culture from the 1950s to now.

Soul Jazz Records album, sub-titled Soundsystem Culture – Black Musical Expression 1973-2006, focuses on the most important Black British musical styles to emerge out of the distinctly Caribbean world of sound systems. The album features an all-star line-up including Dennis Bovell, Shut Up and Dance, Cymande, Digital Mystikz, Brown Sugar, Funk Masters, Janet Kay, Ragga Twins and more.

The album is a lightning-rod journey across Roots Reggae, Jungle/Drum & Bass, Jazz-Funk, Lovers Rock, Jazz, Dubstep and more. Much of Soul Jazz Records’ catalogue comes out of these genres and this album is partly an overview of some of Soul Jazz’s earlier releases (including Digital Mystikz’ long-deleted groundbreaking and now highly-collectible single, Misty Winter) alongside some choice rare and classic tunes that span over 30 years of sound system culture.

Many of the tracks represent how Black British artists defined their own identity with songs such as Brown Sugar’s righteous Black Pride, I’m In Love with A Dreadlocks and Tabby Cat Kelly’s powerful Don’t Call Us Immigrants. Aside from being musically rooted in the distinctly Jamaican-born phenomenon of the sound system, much of this identity is also shaped by the triangular relationship of being British-born, of Caribbean heritage, and with an equal love of African-American Jazz, Funk and Soul, as evidenced with many Lovers Rock tunes reggae covers of American soul tunes (such as those of Jean Carn, William de Vaughan and Rose Royce featured here). This stateside influence can also be heard in groups such as the Funk Masters, a group formed by reggae radio DJ Tony Williams, whose jazz-funk music successfully crossed over into New York’s clubland, as well as the great Cymande, whose unique street-funk became staple material for numerous US hip-hop artists in the years that followed.


1. Black Slate – Sticks Man
2. Dee Sharp – Rising To The Top
3. Asher Senator – One Bible
4. Cymande – Fug
5. Digital Mystikz – Misty Winter
6. Winston Curtis – Be Thankful For What You've Got
7. Trevor Hartley – It Must Be Love
8. Shut Up and Dance featuring The Ragga Twins – Java Bass
9. Brown Sugar – Black Pride
10. The Terrorist – RK1
11. Black Harmony – Don't Let It Go To Your Head
12. Pebbles – Positive Vibrations
13. The Ragga Twins – Ragga Trip
14. Janet Kay and Alton Ellis – Still In Love
15. Funk Masters – Love Money
16. Cosmic Idren – Compelled
17. Harry Beckett – No Time For Hello
18. Sandra Reid – Ooh Boy
19. Tabby Cat Kelly – Don't Call Us Immigrants
20. Brown Sugar – I'm In Love With A Dreadlocks

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