Bob Andy reflects on Song Book

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Monday, August 28, 2017

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Bob Andy is synonymous with Studio One, the legendary record company where he started his solo career in 1966. It is hard to believe that in three years there, he only recorded 12 songs.

In 1972, Studio One patriarch Clement “Coxson” Dodd released Bob Andy's Song Book, a collection of his work with the singer. It is considered a classic, one of the best examples of Jamaican songwriting.

Twenty years ago, Dodd reissued the album on Studio One for the first time on compact disc. It contains My Time, I've Got to go Back Home, Too Experienced, Going Home, Let Them Say, and Unchained.

Andy, 73, told the Jamaica Observer that the songs did not enjoy great airplay in the 1960s. Its greatest exposure came through a medium that was growing throughout Kingston.

“They were popular in the dancehall. That's how people came to know them before Coxson compiled the album,” he said.

At the time of its initial release, Andy had moved to Federal Records where he had a big hit with a cover of Joe South's Games People Play. He recalls going to Studio One on business and seeing Dodd who told him of his plans to release a compilation album of his songs.

Born Keith Anderson in Kingston, Andy was a founding member of harmony group The Paragons before going to Studio One. The label hit its stride in the rocksteady era (1965-67) with a rush of quality songs, many of them written by Andy.

He believes what helped make his songs special and timeless were the musicians.

“I went through three sets of bass players at Studio One…Lloyd Brevett, Brian Atkinson, and Leroy Sibbles; Jackie Mittoo was always the keyboards man,” he explained. “There were some main horn players, from time to time they would shuffle them. Like, for I've Got to go Back Home it was Bobby Ellis (trumpet), Roland Alphonso (saxophone) and Carlton Samuels (saxophone).”

First released on vinyl, then cassette, ' Song Book' is a must-have for collectors. Its rhythms have been used for many hit songs, while Too Experienced, My Time and Unchained and have been covered by Barrington Levy, Sanchez and Jack Radix.

After leaving Studio One, Andy's career continued to flourish. He had a massive hit song in Young, Gifted And Black in England with Marcia Griffiths. That was followed by Games People Play and the provocative Fire Burning.

Whenever he performs, most of his set is built around Songbook which he describes as “a phenomenon”.

“It became a legendary piece of work over time,” said Andy.




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