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Trojan Records

Trojan Dub Box Set 1 - Various Artists [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Short Profile

Trojan Records was founded in 1967 by Chris Blackwell and Lee Gopthal, as an Island Records subsidiary. The first releases were licensed from Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label, and the company took its name from Reid's sound system - The Trojan. In the 60s and 70s Trojan did a major effort in spreading reggae over the UK, licensing Jamaican releases as well as pushing their own UK acts. Nowadays, Trojan mainly lives off its huge back-catalogue, hitting the market with various reggae and dub box-sets.

Trojan Records is a label specialising in reggae and ska. It was founded in 1968 and was named after the Leyland trucks painted with "Duke Reid - The Trojan King Of Sounds" on the sides. These were used to transport heavy sound systems around Jamaica. The company has since branched out into more modern styles including jungle. A fairly recent idea was the release of three-disc genre-specific CD box-sets with 50 tracks per set. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trojan_Records [Apr 2005]

Long Profile

Since its creation in 1968, Trojan Records has led the way in presenting the very best in classic Jamaican sounds, from the Rocksteady and early Reggae sounds that dominated in the years of its launch, up to the modern styles of Dancehall and Jungle. The company has always taken pride in the quality of its releases, which has highlighted the cream of Jamaican talent, with the likes of Bob Marley & The Wailers, Dennis Brown, John Holt, Ken Boothe, Toots & The Maytals and The Inner Circle all included on its illustrious roster. The output of the leading producers who have been instrumental in the developing sound of Jamaican music has also received due attention, with the works of such legendary figures as Arthur 'Duke' Reid, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd and Leslie Kong all featuring prominently on Trojan releases.

The Trojan story begins on July 28th 1967 when the first incarnation of the label was launched by Island Records as a showcase for the productions of Duke Reid. The name itself derived from the seven ton Leyland 'Trojan' trucks that were used to transport the producer's huge sound system around Jamaica, and which had emblazoned upon its sides, 'Duke Reid, The Trojan King Of Sounds'. In fact, long before Island launched their version of the imprint, Reid had used the name on a series of 78s, although it was by the early sixties it had been dropped in favour of the Duke Reid's and later, Treasure Isle labels. Meanwhile, the first British inception of Trojan proved a short-lived operation, folding after a mere dozen or so releases, with Reid's productions subsequently highlighted on the UK incarnation of the aforementioned Treasure Isle imprint.

In 1968, the Trojan name was reactivated by businessman Lee Gopthal, whose company, B&C (Beat & Commercial) had recently merged with Island. Unlike its previous manifestation, the new Trojan label showcased material from varying sources, ranging from British-based producers such as Dandy and Joe Mansano to their esteemed Jamaican counterparts, among whose number included Lee Perry, Bunny Lee, Clancy Eccles and the aforementioned Duke Reid. Meanwhile, the increased volume of recordings being purchased and licensed by the company led to the formation of a series of subsidiary labels, most of which showcased the output of a single producer. Included among these were Amalgamated (for Joe Gibbs), High Note (Sonia Pottinger), Upsetter (Lee Perry), Jackpot (Bunny Lee), Clandisc (Clancy Eccles) and Downtown (Robert 'Dandy' Thompson). So substantial was the volume of material obtained for release that further labels such as Blue Cat, Big Shot and Duke were also created to fulfil a similar function to the parent label, issuing recordings from an array of producers. Over the next year or so more than thirty different labels under the Trojan umbrella were launched.

Soon after its creation, Trojan also began releasing albums, with the TRL (S) series featuring packages considered more up-market and the TTL line (later superseded by TBL) aimed at the budget-price market, predominantly featuring various artist compilations, the most successful of which were the popular 'Tighten Up' volumes.

In 1969, the company enjoyed their first taste of mainstream success, when Tony Tribe's upbeat version of Neil Diamond's 'Red Red Wine' briefly entered the lower reaches of the UK singles chart on 16th July, re-appearing the following month to peak at number 46. Rather than proving a one-off success, the record in fact marked the beginning of a deluge of hits for Trojan and its associated labels. In the Autumn, the Upsetters, led by saxophonist, Val Bennett, hit the number five spot with their double-header, 'Return Of Django'/'Dollar In The Teeth', while the Pioneers' 'Long Shot Kick De Bucket' peaked at number 21. These were swiftly followed by top ten singles from Jimmy Cliff ('Wonderful World, Beautiful People') and the Harry J All Stars ('Liquidator').

The hits continued into 1970, with Desmond Dekker, the Melodians, Toots & the Maytals, Bob & Marcia, Nicky Thomas, Horace Faith, Freddie Notes & the Rudies, as well as the aforementioned Jimmy Cliff, all breaking into the charts. In the spring of 1971, 'Double Barrel' by Dave (Barker) & Ansel Collins gave the company their first British number one, while further chart entries were provided by Bruce Ruffin, Greyhound and The Pioneers.

Aside from the more commercially successful releases, Trojan also showcased work from an array of artists previously considered virtual unknowns outside the shores of Jamaica. Among these were a number of performers who were later to become major international recording stars, including Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, U Roy and a Kingston-based vocal trio called Bob Marley & the Wailers.

The dramatic rise in the company's fortunes since its humble beginnings just a year or so before were nothing short of phenomenal. While its incredible success could certainly be credited in some part to the British West Indian ex-patriot community, it was undoubtedly the buying power of the white and proudly working class youth movement, the skinheads, which had the most profound effect. Unable to identify with either the teen-based style of bubblegum or the psychedelic sounds so favoured by the middle-classes, skinheads found the direct, unpretentious approach of Reggae in keeping with their lifestyle and attitudes and readily adopted the music as their own. But as Reggae became mainstream, Trojan's releases developed a more sophisticated sound, which although initially proved successful, ultimately led to the disenchantment of the music's loyal skinhead following. Nonetheless, the hits continued for the company into 1972, with singles from Greyhound, The Pioneers, Dandy (Livingstone) and Judge Dread. The same year Trojan finally severed all links with Island, which began to concentrate its efforts into promoting UK-based acts.

Over the next few years, Trojan released further UK chart hits, with singles by Dandy, Judge Dread and John Holt all breaching the top thirty, while Ken Boothe's soulful rendering of Bread's 'Everything I Own' gave the company its second UK number one. Meanwhile, back in Jamaica, the sound of Reggae was changing. Increasingly apparent was the rise in black consciousness and the growing influence of the Rastafarian faith, while Dub had also begun to make its mark, with the pioneering sound engineer, King Tubby continually furthering the boundaries of the sound with his innovative mixing style.

In 1975, Trojan was sold to Saga Records and despite a number of worthwhile releases, sustained commercial success proved elusive. Despite this, the company continued to present some of the best in Jamaican sounds, showcasing the work of leading vocalists, including Linval Thompson and Sugar Minott, DJs, such as the late Prince Far I, and leading Dub masters, Scientist and Prince Jammy.

Ten years on, the company changed hands yet again and its new owners embarked on an extensive re-issue programme, with the imprint quickly becoming established as world leaders in field of vintage Jamaican sounds. In the summer of 2001, Trojan was acquired by Sanctuary Records Group who immediately set about raising the label's standards even higher. Today, Trojan's future looks brighter than ever and with some of the leading authorities in the field of vintage Jamaican music contributing to future releases, there are undoubtedly some truly exciting times ahead. --http://www.trojanrecords.net/abouttrojan.htm [Jul 2004]

Trojan Trivia

The Trojan label was launched in 1967 by Chris Blackwell and Lee Gopthal, and named after Duke Reid's "Trojan" Sound System.

The Duke's system took its name from the Bedford Trojan truck he used for transport.

The first releases on Trojan were all Duke Reid productions.

It has been claimed repeatedly that the label was named after the truck Duke Reid used, not his Sound System.

The first chart entry on the Trojan label was the Pioneers' Long Shot Kick The Bucket in October 1969. (Desmond Dekker's hits earlier in the year were on Pyramid, not Trojan.)

In 1969 Trojan's full price albums cost 1 12s 11d - 1.65 today or $2.40 US

The budget TTL series cost a mere 14s 6d: 72 1/2 pence today or around one dollar US. This was replaced in early 1970 by the TBL series at 19s 11d: 99 pence.

Trojan's fourth budget-price album, TTL 4 got it wrong on both counts. It was titled This Is Desmond Dekkar and credited to Desmond Dekkar.

Trojan's address in 1969 was Music House, 12 Neasden Lane, London NW10. The distributor was B&C Records (Beat and Continental - NOT Beat and Commercial, as is often claimed). B&C's press officer was Max "Waxie Maxie" Needham.

The 1969 music press used the terms Reggae, Ska and Bluebeat interchangeably, not quite knowing what to call the "new" music.

Bob Marley & the Wailers' Soul Rebel album was originally a Trojan TBL budget-price release, costing under a pound. When producer Lee Perry licensed the masters to Trojan, he claimed all the songs were his own compositions. The "Soul Rebel" cover model in army fatigues was the girlfriend of a Trojan employee.

The Upsetters' Return of Django, a UK hit on Trojan's Upsetter label was mastered from Jamaican vinyl. Lee Perry never supplied a master tape.

The Music For Pleasure label issued Reggae Party in early 1970, a 12-track budget album of Leslie Kong productions licensed from Trojan. Given top billing were Ken Boothe, the Pioneers and Desmond Dekker. Bob Marley (side one, track 2) was not mentioned. The covermodel was a black girl named Mynah Bird.

The Tighten Up series was launched in 1969. It eventually ran to eight volumes, before being replaced with the 20 Tighten Ups series. On the cover of volume one it proudly announced "with all the top sounds from the West Indies".

Tighten Up Volume Two sold as many copies for its cover picture as its music! (It showed the middle of an apparently nude young lady, her arms "strategically placed" to avoid an X-certificate!)

Trojan set up dozens of subsidiary labels for individual Jamaican producers.

Bob & Marcia's Young Gifted and Black was a cover version of Nina Simone's original. The string overdubs were arranged in London by Johnny Arthey. Believe it or not, it was reissued in the US on Motown.

Nicky Thomas' Love Of The Common People was also a Country hit for Waylon Jennings and a Soul hit for The Winstons.

Boris Gardiner's instrumental Elizabethan Reggae was mistakenly credited to producer Byron Lee on the first pressings.

Skinhead favourites Symarip evolved from a group called the Pyramids. Their Skinhead Moonstomp hit was banned by several dance halls for fear of skinheads "moon-stomping" through the floor.

Jimmy Cliff wrote UK chart hits for both Desmond Dekker (You Can Get It If You Really Want It) and the Pioneers (Let Your Yeah Be Yeah). He left Trojan as he wanted to be seen as a "serious artist", not a Reggae singer.

The 1988 CD reissue of Jimmy Cliff's 1969 Trojan album included seven bonus tracks, one of which is not by Jimmy at all.

Reggae Chartbusters was the first stereo release in the Trojan TBL series. Issued in 1970 as TBLS 105 it was mastered in stereo but all tracks were in mono. The glossy metallic-foil sleeve was inspired by Motown Chartbusters Volume 3.

Trojan released a triple album set called The Trojan Story in 1972. It sold poorly, possibly because of its high price - around 7.00! It subsequently became a highly sought-after collector's item.

In 1976 Trojan was bought by Saga Records, a specialist Jazz, Folk and Classical company. They immediately issued a double album compilation called The Trojan Story.

Colin Newman's Receiver group took over the Trojan name in the late 1980s. They reissued The Trojan Story, and The Trojan Story, and later issued their own Trojan Story.

There have now been at least three completely different compilations called The Trojan Story on release!

In January 1989 Londoner Chris Prete launched The Official Trojan Appreciation Society (TOTAS) with the company's support, and published Let's Catch The Beat, a Trojan fanzine.

Chris Prete compiled many albums and CDs for Trojan (and he's a nice guy with it!)

Until 1998 my website was the only British site to list the Trojan Records catalogue in full.

In 1998 Trojan launched their own website at www.trojan-records.com. In 1998-9 my Trojan pages received more referrals from search engines than the official Trojan website.

In late 2001, Trojan again changed hands - this time to the Sanctuary Group. Best-known for Heavy Metal releases, Sanctuary have called in a number of serious Reggae collectors and historians to advise on the new catalogue. After a cautious start, the new owners are now making excellent headway in returning the Trojan name to the forefront of the Classic Reggae scene.

In March 2002, the revamped website launched a Bulletin Board - the "Trojan Forum" - for requests, comments and discussion about the label and Reggae in general.

The moderator goes by the name of "Lieutenant Ritchie" - whose site you are currently visiting. --http://www.ritchie-hardin.com/reggae/tro_triv.html, accessed Apr 2004

CDs

  1. Trojan Dub Box Set 1 - Various Artists [Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Disc: 1 1. Marijuana - Sly & The Revolutionaries 2. Storming The Death Star - Roots Radics Band 3. Public Eyes - Gregory Isaacs 4. Love Of Jah Jah Children - The G.G. All Stars 5. A Dancing Version - Tommy McCook 6. Miss Know It All - Scientist 7. Rebel Dance - The Observer All Stars 8. Dubbing Sandra - The Upsetters 9. King Tubby's Conversation - Dub King Tubby 10. A Crabbit Version - The Aggrovators 11. White Rum - Sly & The Revolutionaries 12. Mission Impossible - Roots Radics Band 13. Leggo Beast - Gregory Isaacs 14. Dubbin & Wailin - Velvet Shadows 15. Rema Dub - The Observer All Stars 16. Long Time Dub - The Upsetters 17. A Version I Can Feel With Love - Tommy McCook

    Disc: 2 1. King Tubby's Explosion Dub - King Tubby 2. Cocaine - Sly & The Revolutionaries 3. The Death Of Mr Spock - Roots Radics Band 4. Nigger - Gregory Isaacs 5. Right Road To Dubland - The Jahlights 6. Jah Jah Dub - The Aggrovators 7. Rasta Locks - The Observers 8. Dub Dat - The Upsetters 9. The Gorgon Of Dubs & Horns - Tommy McCook 10. King Tubby's patient Dub - King Tubby 11. Black Ash - Sly & The Revolutionaries 12. The Son Of Darth Vader - Roots Radics Band 13. Slum - Gregory Isaacs 14. Do You Dub - The Aggrovators 15. Mosquito Dub - G.G. All Stars 16. Dubbing With The Observer - The Observers 17. Rock Me In Dub - Thompsons All Stars

    Disc: 3 1. Freedom Dub - The Upsetters 2. A Gigantic Dub - Tommy McCook & The Aggrovators 3. Collie - Sly & The Revolutionaries 4. Tam Tam - Gregory Isaacs 5. Turntable Dub - The Observers 6. Scientist Ganja Dub - Scientist 7. Dub On My Pillow - The Aggrovators 8. Herb - Sly & The Revolutionaries 9. The Alien Aborts - The Roots Radics Band 10. Leaving - Gregory Iasaacs 11. Dread Dub - Lloyds All Stars 12. Sir Niney's Rock - The Observers 13. The Big Boss Of Dubs - Tommy McCook & The Aggrovators 14. Dub So - The Upsetters 15. King Tubby's Badness Dub - King Tubby 16. African Dub - The Silvertones

  2. Punky Reggae Party: New Wave Jamaica 1975-1980 - Various Artists [1 CD, Amazon US]
    1. Milk and Honey - Lucy Lizzard 2. White Belly Rat - Lee "Scratch" Perry 3. Up Park Camp - John Holt 4. Mr. Cop - Gregory Isaacs 5. Natural Mystic - Bob Marley & The Wailers 6. Cool Rasta - The Heptones 7. Sons of Slaves - Junior Delgado 8. Key of Keys 9. Rockers (Nuh Crackers) - Glen Washington 10. (Under) Heavy Manners - Prince Far I 11. African Dub - Silvertones 12. Three Piece Suit and Thing 13. Uptown Top Ranking - Althea and Donna 14. Hand Cuff (Hey Mr. Babylon) - Gregory Isaacs 15. Tell the Youths the Truth - Jimmy Riley 16. Danger in Your Eyes - The Mighty Diamonds 17. City Too Hot - Lee "Scratch" Perry 18. I Love Marijuana - Linval Thompson 19. Slum (In Dub)

    Disc: 2 1. Man Next Door - Dennis Brown 2. Marcus Say 3. People Got to Know - Sugar Minott 4. Barber Saloon - Mikey Dread 5. Cross Over - Junior Murvin 6. Lightning and Thunder - Bim Sherman 7. You're No Good - Ken Booth 8. Kingston 12 Tuffie - The Morwells 9. Born Free - Black Uhuru 10. Pope Paul Dead and Gone 11. Liquid Horns - Vin Gordon 12. My Mission Is Impossible - The Viceroys 13. Babylon Wrong - Ashanti Waugh 14. Neckodeemus - The Congos 15. Raiders - Junior Delgado 16. Rob and Gone - Barrington Levy 17. Throne of Blood - Prince Jammy 18. Mr. C.I.D. - Barry Brown 19. Money in My Pocket [12" Mix] - Dennis Brown

    Trojan was the original cool ruler of British reggae labels. In 1967, founders Chris Blackwell and Lee Gopthal began to license the then-exotic dance tunes from visionary Jamaican producers Duke Reid and Coxsone Dodd. Eventually, all of the island's key producers came on board, notably Lee "Scratch" Perry during his close collaboration with Bob Marley and the Wailers. The label went on to introduce Jamaican music to a generation of white British fans, helping to set the foundation for punk rock's embrace of reggae in the Seventies and Eighties. Now a reissue label, Trojan has switched to theme collections that offer lesser-known material in two-CD sets and budget-priced CD boxes [...]--Rollingstone.com [...]

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