Observer senior writer

Monday, June 10, 2019

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These are busy times for Marcia Griffiths. This evening, the evergreen singer was scheduled to perform the last of three shows in Rome, Italy before heading to Florida where her latest album, Timeless, will be released on Friday.

The 15-song set is produced by long-time collaborator Donovan Germain and will be distributed by Tad's International Record. It is a tribute to Studio One, the legendary label where Griffiths' career took off in the 1960s.

Timeless hears her interpretations of rocksteady standards such as Home by Ken Boothe, What Kind of World (The Cables), Baby Be True (The Heptones) and The Abyssinians' Declaration of Rights.

Griffiths, who recorded hit songs including Feel Like Jumping and Really Together at Studio One for producer Clement “Coxson” Dodd, spoke to the Jamaica Observer recently about the genesis of Timeless.

“Both the producer Donovan Germain and myself chose the songs. It was a mutual feeling and consent on all the tracks. I wanted to put myself in the different tracks, some of which were easy to convert to a different style,” she explained. “The others, I just enjoyed them as they were. Like I 'll Never Grow Old by Toots Hibbert, which he also accompanies me on.”

All the songs on Timeless were recorded during the 1960s at Studio One in Kingston. That label had a decade-long tussle for ascendancy with Treasure Isle during the ska and rocksteady eras. Treasure Isle was run by producer Arthur “Duke” Reid.

After leaving Studio One, Griffiths' career thrived with hit songs for producers Harry “Harry J” Johnson ( Young, Gifted and Black), and Sonia Pottinger ( Dreamland and Stepping Outa Babylon). For most of the 1970s, she was also a member of the I Three, Bob Marley's harmony group.

In the 1980s, Griffiths had a monster hit with Electric Boogie, written by Bunny Wailer. She enjoyed a remarkable resurgence a decade later at Germain's Penthouse Records where her hits included dancehall-friendly songs like Much Closer and Fire Burning.

A tour of Europe, which resumes in July, is the main promotion platform for Timeless. Griffiths is scheduled to perform in Denmark, Sweden, France, Austria, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Spain, The Netherlands, and Slovakia. The tour ends August 25 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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