January 09, 2007

Album Review

Ever since its earliest days, reggae has been as much a forum for producers as for songwriters, singers, and instrumentalists -- maybe even more so. It's producers who ultimately determine the sound of a recording, by choosing the musicians, shaping the mix (the relative volume and presence of the various instruments), creating arrangements, and often even writing some or all of the music. Producers have a huge influence in all genres of pop music, but in reggae they have always been particularly central; legendary producers like Lee "Scratch" Perry, Coxsone Dodd, Duke Reid, and King Tubby have distinctive, recognizable sounds all their own. The same is true of Lloyd "King Jammy" James, who basically acted as midwife for the dancehall sound in the early '80s through the creation of such seminal rhythms as "Cat Paw," "Fire Fire," "Love Punaany Bad," and, especially, the deathless "Sleng Teng." This is the first of four two-disc volumes celebrating the golden age of dancehall reggae at Jammy's studio, and it acts as something of a catalog of his work, featuring a handful of rhythms and several singers and chatters on each one. Nitty Gritty's answer to Tenor Saw's "Ring the Alarm" is included here (titled, appropriately enough, "False Alarm"), Johnny Osbourne's classic "What a La La" is included on the same rhythm, as is the Dean Fraser horn cut "Stagalag Excursion." There are no fewer than six versions of the "Sleng Teng" rhythm, including Tenor Saw's "Pumpkin Belly" and Johnny Osbourne's "Buddy Bye" in addition to the Wayne Smith classic. Other featured singers and toasters include Admiral Tibett,Dennis Brown, Leroy Smart, and Pinchers. Essential, as are the other three volumes in the series.
Rick Anderson, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Ain't No Meaning
  2. Draw Mi Mark
  3. People Are You Ready
  4. It a Ring
  5. In Deh
  6. Hog in a Minty
  7. The Exit
  8. What a La La
  9. Come Along
  10. False Alarm
  11. Good Morning Teacher
  12. Stalag Excursion
  13. Mr. Landlord
  14. It's Magic
  15. Nah Look No Wuk
  16. Denise
  17. Let Off Supum
  18. Bad Bwoy Gone a Jail
  19. It's Over
  20. Shame to See
  21. Pumpkin Belly
  22. Call the Police
  23. Under Mi Sleng Teng
  24. Buddy Bye
  25. Original Fat Thing
  26. Eagles Feather
  27. Agony
  28. Big Belly Man
  29. Synthesizer Voice
  30. Must Love Reggae
  31. Don't Pirate It
  32. Me Nuh Response
  33. Police Inna England
  34. Girlie Girlie
  35. Clarks Booty
  36. No Warrior
  37. Warrior
  38. Advantage
  39. Material Girl