Join Riverfront Times Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Various Artists 

Down Santic Way (Pressure Sounds)

Snakier and spookier than anything on the recent Trojan or Studio One compilations, Down Santic Way boasts incredible focus where the others offer breadth. There's a reason for this: Where the former labels enjoyed a decades-long life span, Leonard Chin's Santic Records hammered out its legacy within a concentrated period of time. All of the songs on Santic were recorded between 1973 and 1975, just as the city of Kingston was reaching its creative peak. And while Santic features contributions from reggae mainstays like King Tubby and Augustus Pablo, the record's structure makes it better suited for studying than for stepping. Different readings of the same groove are lined up consecutively, which effectively bars purely recreational listening. What it does offer is a chance for the curious to contrast the styles of various producers. Freddie McKay's "I'm a Free Man" is offered in three different iterations -- the original vocal version and two dub readings. Hearing all three, back-to-back-to-back, is ear-opening: Where McKay's original is a laid-back sufferah's lament, Pablo's bass-heavy dub two songs later accentuates the song's sinister soul. Such strict sequencing makes Santic a nightmare for the beginner -- but a necessity for the expert.

Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.

More by J. Edward Keyes

Read the Digital Print Issue

July 1, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2020 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation