“Formed by a Chinese-Jamaican couple in the early ‘60s in Kingston, Jamaica, Randy’s Records started as a used record store, then grew to house a reggae recording studio in the upstairs part of the building,” the film’s synopsis states.
“With archival photos and videos as well as compelling interviews with musicians who lived in the golden age of reggae, the tale of Randy’s Records unfolds as a triumphant enterprise as ‘the waterhole for Jamaican musicians’ in the first days of the country’s independence from Britain in 1962, its sudden shuttering due to political and military tensions in the 70s, and a remarkable final rebirth. That takes place when the son of the owners, Clive Chin, returns to the dilapidated Studio 17 where he participated as a producer in the recording of such soon-to-be-stars as Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Sly Dunbar, and Peter Tosh. At the abandoned Studio 17, he discovered close to 2,000 original reel-to-reel tapes of music, much of which had never been released. It was a treasure trove that Chin eventually restored and got digitized. Clive’s remembrances offer an oral history of the studio and its reggae artists before the infectious beat conquered the world’s music.”
In the clip from the film — which had its U.S. streaming premiere earlier this month as part of Tidal’s Reggae Month programming, and is now available to stream via Qwest TV — Tosh’s master recording of his 1969 single “You Can’t Fool Me Again” is rediscovered, with Clive Chin reflecting on the track and Tosh’s legacy.
“You hear this today, and you hear this 10 years from now, it sounds sweet,” Chin says. “He was very spiritually inclined, if you listen to Peter’s songs, and that’s what made him the mystic man.”
“I’ve met every rock star in my life, lucky enough, all the Bonos, Jaggers, McCartneys, and the greatest rock star I ever met was Peter Tosh,” reggae producer Wayne Jobson says in the film. “As far as being a brilliant singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, revolutionary, great sense of humor. Nobody can match him as an all-around musician and an all-around genius.”
Among the “lost tapes” also featured in the documentary is an unfinished Dennis Brown song, “When You Get Right Down to It,” that is completed in the film by Eurythmics guitarist Dave Stewart.
Studio 17 – The Lost Reggae Tapes, made in partnership with the BBC, is streaming now on Qwest TV.