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(From left) Murray Elias, former A&R chief at VP Records; and engineer Steven Stanley with producers Steelie and Clevie.

THE 14-track compilation Old To The New: A Steelie & Clevie Tribute to Joe Gibbs Classics was released in May 2002. The set paired veteran artistes with the current acts of the day, revamping songs previously produced by Joe Gibbs.

The compilation was well received by critics. However, it was a slow seller. It took off following the mainstream success of one of the songs, Sean Paul and Sasha’s cover of I’m Still in Love with You.

Murray Elias

Murray Elias

Murray Elias, former A&R chief at VP Records, played a major role in the production of the compilation and the promotion of the Sean Paul and Sasha collaboration.

“The concept for Old to the New came about because when I started at VP, during my days as a club DJ, two of my big records were Althea and Donna’s Uptown Top Rankin’ and Marcia Aitken and Trinity’s cover of I’m Still in Love with You. Both were produced by Joe Gibbs and I always thought that the Marcia Aitken/Trinity song had a potential to crossover. While I was at VP, I had all the access to make it work if done over properly,” Elias told Jamaica Observer.

The Producing duo of Cleveland "Clevie" Browne (l) and Wycliff "Steely" Johnson

The Producing duo of Cleveland “Clevie” Browne (l) and Wycliff “Steely” Johnson

“Steelie and Clevie were the right producers at the right time to make the record, although they had very little input in the actual concept of the record. When it came to choosing the artistes and the pairing of the artistes, I did that. I convinced Steelie and Clevie to give Sasha a chance. She had the teenage vibe, bubble gummy kind of vocal which she did on her hit Dat Sexy Body,” he continued.

In addition to I’m Still in Love With You (Sean Paul and Sasha), Old To The New featured the songs Love You Like That (JC Lodge and Junior Kelly); Two Sevens Clash (Culture and Anthony B); My Woman (Barrington Levy and Ce’Cile); Ain’t That Loving You (Beres Hammond and U-Roy); I’ m Not Ashamed (Culture); Rent Man (Mykal Rose); How Could I Leave (Richie Stephens); Should I (Freddie McGregor); Left with a Broken Heart (George Nooks); Money in My Pocket (Glen Washington); My Woman (Barrington Levy) and Someone Loves You Honey (JC Lodge).

Three of the songs were released commercially as singles on 45 rpm, the ones recorded by Sean Paul and Sasha; Culture and Anthony B; and Barrington Levy and Ce’Cile. But it was the Sean Paul/Sasha collaboration that pushed the compilation up the charts.

Sean Paul & Sasha

Sean Paul & Sasha

The song broke into the UK pop chart at number six and became a hit across Europe even crossing over into America. It peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 14 on the R&B Hip Hop Songs chart in the United States; number one in Mexico and Poland; and registered top ten spots in Hungary, Italy, Switzerland and Ireland.

Sean Paul had signed with Atlantic Records at the time and the label wasn’t supportive of promoting I’m Still in Love with You. It was later included on Sean’s Dutty Rock album.

“Atlantic didn’t believe in the song. After the success of Get Busy, the label wanted more dancehall and they pulled the plug on I’m Still in Love with You at the last minute. It first picked up steam in the UK, where it entered the chart at number six. Afterwards, the label got behind it. It was a crowning moment for me when it took off. It was a proud moment in my career, especially when they performed the song on Top of the Pops,” Elias, who served as A&R, executive producer, and chief marketing and promotions executive on the Old To The New project.

Joe Gibbs

Joe Gibbs

He recalled Gibbs’ reaction to the project.

“Joe has positive things to say about it. The songs were based on his productions and he was pleased and honoured to have a tribute done to him.”

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