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Studio 17: The Lost Reggae Tapes doc screening: marking Jamaican Independence & BHM

Studio 17: The Lost Reggae Tapes doc screening: marking Jamaican Independence & BHM

Studio 17: The Lost Reggae Tapes includes original interviews with iconic figures like Jimmy Cliff, the late Lee “Scratch” Perry (main image) , Sly Dunbar, Maxi Priest, Ali Campbell of UB40, King Jammy,

Studio 17: The Lost Reggae Tapes features an unreleased track from the Studio 17 archives by Dennis Brown, the late great Crown Prince of Reggae. The legendary singer’s birthday, each February 1st, kicks off the annual worldwide celebration of Reggae Month.


The song was produced by Clive Chin in the mid 1970s at Studio 17 and left unfinished and unreleased until being rescued by Clive many years later. After forty years, the internationally acclaimed musician, songwriter, and producer Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame collaborated with Clive to finish the tender love song, adding vocals by teenage singer Hollie  Stephenson to create a moving duet that can be heard for the first time in the documentary.

Jimmy Cliff


Lord Creator, Ernest Ranglin, the late trombonist Rico Rodriguez, and the late producer Bunny Lee. The film tells the tale of the birth of reggae as it rose from humble beginnings to become a worldwide phenomenon.

The in-depth documentary also tells the story of how Lord Creator fell on hard times after recording early hits for Randy’s and other producers. Years later, he was homeless and destitute until the British reggae band UB40 covered his classic song “Kingston Town” and changed his life forever.


Located in the heart of downtown Kingston at 17 North Parade, Randy’s Records and Randy’s Studio 17 were founded by Vincent and Pat Chin, becoming a nerve centre of Jamaica’s vibrant music scene. Amidst the political strife of the late 1970s, the Chin family relocated to America to start a new life. Years later, Vincent’s eldest son Clive Chin returned to salvage hundreds of precious reels that were left behind, painstakingly restoring these lost recordings by many legends of ska and reggae.

During the late 1950s, Vincent “Randy” Chin was working for a jukebox company, changing out worn records all over Jamaica. Instead of throwing the used records away, Vincent had the bright idea of selling them at a reduced price. By his side from the start was his wife Pat, who had given up a career in nursing to join Vincent as he travelled around the island. Together they set up Randy’s Records, just as a spirit of excitement was starting to grip Jamaica with the onset of independence from Great Britain. In 1962, Vincent produced his first record, “Independent Jamaica” by Lord Creator, a charismatic singer of the time. The song became a huge hit, launching Vincent Chin into a lifetime of record production.

The Randy’s archive contains hundreds of reels featuring many unheard and unreleased songs by The Wailers, Peter Tosh, Dennis Brown, The Skatalites, Alton Ellis, Gregory Isaacs and many more legendary stars of Jamaican music. Somehow these precious tapes survived years of neglect as well as looting, Hurricane Gilbert, and intense tropical heat. The songs were produced by Vincent “Randy” Chin and his son Clive Chin at Randy’s Studio 17, which was located upstairs from the family’s bustling record store at 17 North Parade, forming Jamaica’s first fully integrated production and sales outlet.

Dennis Brown, the Crown Prince of Reggae • Errol Thompson, Clive Chin, and Augustus Pablo at Studio 17

In its prime, Studio 17 was a magnet for top Jamaican talent, including Bob Marley & the Wailers , Peter Tosh (who also worked there as a studio musician), Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs,  Alton Ellis, Ken Boothe, Carl Malcolm, Jimmy London,  The Skatalites, American soul star Johnny Nash and many more. Legendary producers like Lee “Scratch” Perry and Bunny Lee booked out Studio 17 regularly while Vincent mentored his son Clive Chin in the art of engineering and production. Clive’s sessions with Augustus Pablo yielded the historic Java Java Java LP, the first dub album in music history. But the good times would soon come to an end.

Political turmoil gripped Jamaica in the late 1970s, forcing the Chin family to flee to New York, abandoning the recording studio and hundreds of session tapes in their haste. Vincent and Pat went on to establish VP Records, which became the world’s largest independent distributor of reggae music. Meanwhile in Jamaica, stacks of original session tapes languished inside Studio 17, surviving violence, looting, Hurricane Gilbert, and sweltering tropical heat.

Years later, Clive Chin undertook a mission to rescue the treasure trove of original Studio 17 tapes. Inspired by the tragic death of his son Joel Chin, a VP Records employee who was murdered in a still-unsolved shooting in 2011, Clive resolved to digitize and remaster these stunning recordings from reggae’s golden age. Listening to session tapes with ace musicians bantering between takes is like stepping into a time machine, an experience that unleashes a flood of wonderful memories from Clive Chin’s years working alongside his father.


Director: Mark James

Producers: Reshma B / Mark James

Camera: Chris Morphet

Film Editor: Paul Burgess

Executive Producers: Waël Kabbani, Iambic Dream Films / 

Jan Younghusband, BBC

Mark James: Producer & Director

Mark is an award-winning director, editor, and cinematographer. He studied fine art at Goldsmiths College and film production at the Royal College of Art. He went on to direct a number of films for television including FREEZE, the controversial first film on artist Damien Hirst and the new wave of YBA’s (Young British Artists) for BBC 1. Since then, Mark has filmed, directed, and edited many films for television on music and the arts, including Bryan Ferry, Dave Stewart, Phil Collins. His first feature film VAMPIRE DIARY won 4 awards at the Milan International Film Festival, including ‘best film’. More recently, Mark directed, shot, and edited A BIPOLAR EXPEDITION, a feature documentary for Channel 4’s True Stories series, as well as 3D dance spectacular DANCE, DANCE, DANCE for Sky Arts that won the 3D Society International Award in Hollywood. Mark has several new documentary projects in development, as well as several feature films that he has written.

See Also

Reshma B: Producer & Reggae Journalist

Reshma B is a music journalist and filmmaker who specializes in       reggae and dancehall music. Her work  appears on media platforms such as BBC, Billboard, Pigeons & Planes/Complex, VIBE and Boomshot s. She is also the reggae and dancehall curator at Tidal. She has conducted extensive interviews  with most of the top acts in Jamaican music including Shabba Ranks, Supercat, Vybz Kartel,  Spice and Popcaan. She writes the column “Murda She Wrote”, highlighting the latest dancehall releases, which currently runs on Tidal Magazine, accompanied by its own  playlist. For Reggae Month 2021, Reshma B rolled out a special feat       ure on Tidal’s homepage to pay tribute to Jamaican music consisting of over 60 specially curated playlists. The “Reggae Girl  About Town’s” in -depth cultural knowledge and strong relationships with leading artists have made her a popular figure within the scene, she has produced music docs for TV, radio and internet, as       well  as hosting events and on-camera interviews. In her documentary ‘Jamaica Inna Real Life’ she and  a camera crew followed New York–based recording artist HoodCelebrityy on her first trip home to Jamaica since she was a little girl. STUDIO 17: THE LOST          REGGAE TAPES is her first featurelength project. She also produced and directed the 2021 mini documentary on Grammy

nominee Skip Marley, ‘Skip Marley: Let’s Take It Higher’.

Waël  Kabbani: Executive Producer

Waël  is the founder and executive creative director of Iambic Dream Films & Iambic Dream Inc., independent production companies producing music, film, and animation. He is an executive              producer of  award-winning and critically acclaimed films, including “We Are Many”, “Open Bethlehem”, “Life Is Sacred”, “Studio 17: The Lost Reggae Tapes”, “Cultivating Murder”,         “Medicine Man: The Stan Brock Story”, and “What Walaa Wants”. Waël’s films have been              screen ed at international film festivals, including the Berlinale/Berlin International Film Festival, Sheffield  Doc/Fest, and Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. WHAT WALAA WANTS was awarded the Directors Guild of Canada’s Special Jury Prize for Canadian Feature

Documentary, as well as four other awards. The film was nominated for three Canadian Screen  Awards, which are the Canadian equivalent of the Academy Awards, and Waël was also  nominated for a CSA. Before getting into films, he was  and continues to be an award-winning songwriter and the creator of a global network of animated superheroes called “The Utopians’        Alliance”.  

Paul  Burgess: Editor

Paul  has over 25 years’ experience making high quality broadcast television. After graduating in Film  and Literature at Warwick University, he built his reputation as one of the U.K’s foremost documentary editors, earning awards, nominations, and critical acclaim for his work. Persuaded

to bring his storytelling skills outside the cutting room he has gone on to forge a parallel career as

Producer and Director, making films on a wide range of social, cultural and historical subjects for all major international broadcasters including BBC, PBS, ARTE, CBC, Discovery and National Geographic.         

Company director Marlon Palmer is of Jamaican heritage, knows the target market for this film well  and is really proud to have the privilege of bringing this historical film to UK audiences. Through the company’s  past work they have organised theatrical distribution tours across the UK for Jamaican themed films like Ghett A Life, The Story of Lovers Rock and managed full UK

distribution for the 2019 film Sprinter.   

The name ‘Kush Films’ is synonymous with black films in the UK!