King Jammy's Dancehall Part 2: Digital Roots & Hard Dancehall 1984-1991
Dub Store Records
CD / Dbl Viynyl LP / Digital Release
March 27, 2017
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
Born in 1947 in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Lloyd James moved to Kingston, where he began his career as an apprentice mixer, known as Prince Jammy, under the late great King Tubby. In 1977 he was enlisted to mix the dub counterpart to "In the Light" by Horace Andy. In that same year he produced Black Uhuru's classic "Love Crisis" and he also put out the dubs as the "Lion Dub Style" LP. He owned his own studio at his in-laws' home in Waterhouse and started his own soundsystem. In 1985 he build the "Sleng Teng" riddim. When his Super Power sound system met the Black Scorpio set for a popular sound clash Jammy played that tune and turned the reggae world upside down, because this song was to alter the sound of reggae music: the digital era had begun. His productions lead in the integration of synthesizer driven (digital) sounds in dancehall reggae.
King Jammy was the undisputed ruler of the dancehall in the second half of the 1980s. By the end of the decade there were at least 150 albums in his catalogue, with countless other songs appearing on singles. During that period of time, he was catching the best of the old and new performers and recorded them over the most progressive riddims then being built.
Fourty years after he started his career as a producer and some 32 years after his digidubs revolutionised Jamaican popular music, Dub Store Records outta Japan comes up with a noteworthy compilation series featuring a mega selection of King Jammy produced music ranging from classics to rare cuts. Combining the mixing talents of engineers Bobby "Digital" Dixon and Squingy Francis with the skills of arranger/songwriter Mikey Bennett and musicians such as bass player Wycliffe "Steely" Johnson, drummer Cleveland "Clevie" Browne and saxophonist Dean Fraser contributed to the success of King Jammy's studio.
Dub Store Records' compilation series mainly focuses on bringing together the very best heavyweight dancehall tunes from Jammys released during the digital phase of reggae music. "King Jammy's Dancehall Part 2", subtitled "Digital Roots & Hard Dancehall 1984-1991" contains fifteen serieus cuts from vocalists and deejays as well as five dub versions. Just like Part 1, this second compilation gets started with the Crownprince of Reggae, Dennis Brown. The 1985 released lovers lament "History" shows that he's able to handle the digi riddim in a totally satisfying way. Another example is the sizzling "Tracks Of Life", which comes across a heavy digital remake of the Studio One classic "Swing Easy". Dennis Brown's opener is followed by Cornell Campbell's beautifully sung "Nothing Don't Come Easy" from 1987, a real killer and one of the most popular and rare tunes among record collectors. Another digi killer is Admiral Tibet's "Victim Of Babylon", voiced over a jaunty riddim with s rough and tough bassline. Obviously the Wailing Souls didn't record that much in the digital dancehall era, but almost everything they did for King Jammy was well worth hearing. The compatibility of their time-honed harmonies and hard digital instrumentation is very surprising as can be fully experienced when listening to their big tune "Move On".
Tinga Stewart's cautionary "No Drugs" is a nice piece, but when it comes to killer tunes Pad Anthony's "Dangerous System" is the one to check. For this song about systematic oppression he rides the same riddim as Dennis Brown's "History". Pad Anthony, who released a large number of classic songs with King Jammy, is also present with the uplifting "Gotta Be Strong", another huge tune. And the deadly goods just keep on coming with the ultra rare, "Cry For The Youth" by Wackad, a singer who only released a few tracks from the late 1980s and early 1990s. Al Campbell comes up with a boom tune called "Don't Take Your Gun To Town", actually a slightly different cut to Junior Murvin's "Jack Slick" originally released in 1988 on Live & Love 12" vinyl only. Roots singer Junior Delgado tackles King Jammy's version of the "Tempo" riddim for the nice "Run Come". Vocally and lyrically Junior Murvin shines bright on "Cool Down The Heat", while the little known Prince Junior, a young singer with a high-pitched weeping voice, delivers the amazing "Crucial Boy", which previously appeared on 12" vinyl and on the LP "Prince Jammy Presents Vol. 2". Prince Junior treats the listener to a serious tune about Equal Rights, Justice and Love & Unity. Half Pint's excellent "One Big Ghetto", across a digital version of the Blackstones' classic "Open The Gates", rounds off the vocal part of this compilation. A really nice addition are the five dub versions at the end of this set.
A crucial selection not to be missed!