TROJAN DANCEHALL ROOTS BOX SET (TJETD243) - When people discuss the origins of Dancehall, names such as Tom The Great Sebastian, Arthur 'Duke' Reid and Clement 'Sir Coxson' Dodd are often mentioned. Sir Coxson and the Duke are celebrated for their respective Downbeat and Trojan sound systems, as well as for their subsequent Studio One and Treasure Isle record labels. These pioneers have left a legacy that continues in the dancehall to this day. In fact, many of the performers on this set either recorded at Studio One or are in some way connected with those respected institutions. Following the untimely demise of the Studio One veteran and international superstar, Bob Marley, the roots and cultural sounds of the seventies faltered. Many commentators felt that the death of the singer signalled the end of an era. These convictions were further fuelled when sound system singers and DJs began singing and chatting about gun violence and slackness. Their choice of subject matter has resulted in the dancehall being considered a cultural void.

But there were many performers who distanced themselves from such crude lyricism by resonating inna righteous stylee, as with the opening track on this collection from Wesley Tinglin's rural rootsy three part harmony specialists, the Viceroys. The group began their career in the mid-sixties as the Voiceroys. Under this guise, they recorded for the aforementioned Sir Coxson at Studio One and later performed as the Interns for Lee 'Scratch' Perry at the Black Ark. However, following a change in the line-up and their change of name to the Viceroys, Wesley's group embarked on recording sessions for Linval Thompson whose heavy-duty production skills resulted in one of the groups' best-remembered hits 'WE MUST UNITE', the precursor of a series of favourites including 'THEY CAN'T STOP US NOW' and 'I'M TOILING ON'.

The late lamented Barry Brown was a much-admired Roots favourite who always stood by his principles. However, before concentrating on spiritual love he had made his recording debut with 'Girl You're Always On My Mind' for Bunny Lee, who also taped our featured track, 'LEAD US JAH JAH'. That song is subsequently complimented on this set by two wicked disco mixes: 'LIVING AS A BROTHER' and the classic 'MR C.I.D'.

Edmund 'Mikey' Brooks, aka Mike, began his career in a little-known band called the Tots, the line-up of which included former Viceroy, Norris Reid. The group recorded 'The Earth Is The Fullness' which, in spite of featuring the Wailers' drum and bass duo, was met with indifference. Shortly after the group disbanded, Mikey found success as a soloist with Alvin Ranglin before going into production work. While recording other singers he also ventured into self-production on tracks such as the sublime 'ONE HEART'. This led to a hit that echoed the Heptones' 'Pretty Looks' when he stated 'MONEY IS NOT ALL', followed by the assertive 'LIVING MY CULTURE', which mashed up the dance.

The self-effacing Dennis Brown needs no introduction, as he released more Reggae classics than just about anybody else. He was also one of the few established singers to ride the dancehall rhythms while maintaining roots themes, as demonstrated on 'UNITE BROTHERMAN' and the wonderful 'LITTLE VILLAGE'.

Don Carlos began his career as the lead singer of the vocal group Black Uhuru. He sang with the group shortly before they enjoyed mainstream success but, prior to their international acclaim, he was persuaded to record as a soloist. He released a series of hits in Jamaica including the Dancehall favourites 'TRIBULATION', 'SWEET AFRICA' and 'NATTY DREAD HAVE HIM CREDENTIAL'.

Like Don Carlos, Sugar Minott initially performed in a vocal group (the African Brothers), and like Dennis and Barry Brown, the singer recorded as a soloist for Sir Coxson. In fact, while Dennis Brown began his career and, regrettably, Barry ended his with the producer, Sugar is widely regarded as having redeemed Sir Coxson's fortunes by writing new songs and singing them over existing Studio One rhythms. Sugar's success led to him working for a number of producers including Prince Jammy and Winston 'Niney' Holness who provided the tracks 'WE ARE GOING (BACK HOME)' and 'I WANT TO KNOW (ONLY JAH JAH).

Next up is 'Little' John McMorris, widely regarded as Jamaica's first Dancehall singer. Whilst Sugar Minott championed new talent on his Youth Promotion sound, John first found fame with Carl Dwyer, better known as the DJ/producer Captain Sinbad, who employed the singer on his similarly-named Youth In Progress set. However, as is part and parcel of the Jamaican recording industry, John recorded for a number of producers. He relished his biggest success with 'MR BABYLON', from the album Reggae Dance, and 'JAH GUIDE I' which appear on a Trojan CD for the first time. Little John's falsetto style may have been inspired by our next artist Cornel 'the Gorgon' Campbell, a veteran of the Jamaican recording industry who, not surprisingly, began his career at Studio One in the early sixties. He also sang with the Sensations and the Eternals before persuing a solo career with Bunny Lee. On this set, we have included three fine examples of his work for Bunny who produced the insistent 'FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION', 'GOT TO TELL THE PEOPLE', and 'THE JUDGEMENT COME'.

Our next artist, Tristan Palmer, is the master of the sing-jay style. He found his greatest success with Jah Thomas whose productions 'Spliff Tail' and 'Joker Smoker' preceded our featured tracks 'PEACE AND LOVE (IN THE GHETTO)', 'TIME SO HARD' and 'GOT TO PRAISE JAH JAH'. These were recorded before Trojan released the praiseworthy Linval Thompson-produced album Settle Down Girl (TRLS 215).

The Wailing Souls initially performed as the Renegades, and then as the Classics for Sir Coxson and even Pipe & the Pipers for the Wailers' Tuff Gong imprint. During their career, they released a series of timeless hits such as 'Harbour Shark', 'Bredda Gravalicious', and 'Old Broom' before going on to rule the Dancehall with productions from Henry 'Junjo' Lawes and Linval Thompson. In this Dancehall Roots anthology we have included Linval's amazing productions of 'MR BIG MORE' and 'FACE THE DEVIL' from the Trojan album named after the latter song.

Johnny Osbourne is best remembered for his 1969 classic 'Come Back Darling', yet soon after recording the song, he journeyed to Canada and it was not until the late seventies, when he returned to Jamaica to record the hugely popular Studio One album Truths And Rights, that his career went into overdrive. Following the success of the LP he recorded for King Jammy who produced the Dancehall favourite 'Folly Ranking', which led to a plethora of hits including the conscientious 'CAN'T LEAVE JAH' and 'LIVE RIGHT', while he recorded a familiar riff in 'BRING THE SENSI COME' that led to a wicked Midnight Rock album of the same name.

Curiously, the Mighty Diamonds are not generally associated with Dancehall despite the fact that in the early eighties their dub plates were the most played recordings on the Jamaican, US and UK sound system circuits. It was at this time that they recorded the legendary 'Pass The Kouchie'. The song was based on the Studio One rhythm 'Full Up', which inspired a series of hits and led to sessions for Tapper Zukie, who produced 'MORGAN THE PIRATE', 'BAD BOY', and a cool vibes tone in 'LEADERS OF THE BLACK COUNTRY'.

Shortly before his untimely demise, Michael Williams, aka Prince Far I, who began his career as a bouncer at Studio One, was re-establishing his name in the dancehall with cultural hits like 'WORKING FOR MY SAVIOUR', 'WHAT YOU GONNA DO ON JUDGEMENT DAY' and 'EVERY TIME I HEAR THE WORD'. Tragically, just as he was on the cusp of revived success, he fell victim to the street violence that he and the conscientious Dancehall singers had sought to bring to an end. Sadly, that violence continues to this day: in January 2005 the creator of the bogle dance, Gerald Levy, aka Mr Bogle, fell victim to gun crime and joined the ever-increasing list of Dancehall fatalities.

That leads us to Anthony Johnson who originally found fame in the seventies, and in the following decade relished international notoriety with his hit 'Gunshot' recorded for Jah Thomas' Midnight Rock label. The producer also released Anthony's debut album 'Gunshot', while King Jammy released the album 'Ah Yah We Deh'. He contributes three Dancehall classics to this set: 'JAH LOVE (AKA KNOW YOURSELF MANKIND)', 'FOLLOW THEM FOOTSTEP (AKA THOSE MEN WERE GREAT MEN)' and 'WHAT KIND OF HERB'. And if you like these, you can find Anthony's original 'Gunshot' on the excellent Creole Reggae Box Set (TJETD 161).

This leads is nicely to Jamaica's Cool Ruler, widely acclaimed as the other established singer who successfully rode the Dancehall and Digital eras with ease. Gregory Isaacs comes on strong with, and confidently asserts that there is no competition on 'SLAVE DRIVER', while he proved that 'him nah done' on the poignant 'MOTHERLESS CHILDREN'.

Next up on the mike is Earl 'Sixteen' Daley who was dismissed from Boris Gardiner's Happening Band due to the contempt held towards his Rastafarian ideals by the hotel management that employed the group. He later performed on Daddy U Roy's Sturgav (stereograph) sound system alongside Ranking Joe and Jah Screw before recording at; yes, you have guessed it, Studio One. However, as you have no doubt noticed, the dancehall embraced Earl's ideology and the singer rammed the dance with hits such as 'JAH IS THE MASTER' and 'CRISIS'.

We return to the rural roots style of our opening track with the stunning three-part harmonies of Israel Vibration. The group are second to none in having triumphed over poliomyelitis to conquer the dancehall with the suitably titled 'JAH JAH ROCK' alongside 'PRAISE UNTO JAH' and 'JAH IS THE WAY', which led to the international notoriety that they enjoy individually and collectively to this day.

Charlie Chaplin performed on the aforementioned Sturgav Sound System following Ranking Joe and Jah Screw's departure. U Roy was one of the first artists openly to promote Rastafari through his sound system and subsequently recruited Charlie alongside Brigadier Jerry and Inspector Willie to provide the cultural vibes. Charlie's significant status on the live circuit resulted in Roy Cousins producing the now deleted 'One Of A kind' LP (TRLS 216). On this collection, we have featured the title track alongside another sublime Chaplin chant 'WALK WITH JAH'.

You have probably noticed that Linval Thompson produced many of our contributions to this celebration of Dancehall Roots, and I am sure that most of you will know that he began his career singing in the higher range that became prevalent among the Dancehall sing jays. Considering his work in this area, we felt it only right to include an example of Linval's distinctive vocal style on the incomparable 'JAH LOVES US ALL'.

The legend of Leroy Smart, the original Don Man and alumnus of the renowned Alpha Boys' School, has sometimes overshadowed his obvious vocal skills. With hits such as 'Pride And Ambition', 'Ballistic Affair' and the assured 'Mr Smart' he confidently went into self-production, releasing the dancehall favourite 'TOO MUCH PRESSURE'. He has since maintained a high profile with 'She Just A Draw Card' and the classic 'I Am The Don', which was and is still much loved in the dance.

Our final man on the mike is Bobby Melody, who performed alongside Vivian 'Yabby You' Jackson and Alric Forbes in the Prophets before enjoying success as a soloist. He is probably best remembered for the Reggae chartbuster 'Jah Bring I Joy' that he recorded for Joe Gibbs in the mid-seventies before enjoying popularity with the 'chronic' hit 'LOW THE SENSI MAN' riding the 'Under Me Sensi' / 'African Beat' rhythm.

There is a school of thought that the edginess of Roots naturally led to the dynamism of Dancehall. This compilation ably demonstrates that theory, along with the way in which Jamaican music continues to influence the contemporary sounds of now.

So let's rewind and come again with fifty-bonafide cultural vibes inna Dancehall stylee.

Stephen Nye

DISC 1

DISC 2

DISC 3

We Must Unite
The Viceroys
Lead Us Jah Jah
Barry Brown
One Heart
Mikey Brooks
Unite Brotherman
Dennis Brown
Tribulation
Don Carlos
We Are Going (Back Home)
Sugar Minott
Mr. Babylon
Little John
Peace And Love (In The Ghetto)
Tristan Palmer
Fight Against Corruption
Cornel Campbell
Face The Devil
The Wailing Souls
Can't Leave Jah
Johnny Osbourne
Morgan The Pirate
The Mighty Diamonds
Working For My Saviour
Prince Far I
Jah Love (Aka Know Yourself Mankind)
Anthony Johnson
Slave Driver
Gregory Isaacs
Jah Is The Master
Earl Sixteen
Jah Jah Rock
Israel Vibration

Living As A Brother
Barry Brown
Time So Hard
Tristan Palmer
Leaders Of Black Country
The Mighty Diamonds
Got To Tell The People
Cornel Campbell
They Can't Stop Us Now
The Viceroys
Little Village
Dennis Brown
Money Is Not All
Mikey Brooks
Sweet Africa
Don Carlos
One Of A Kind
Charlie Chaplin
Live Right
Johnny Osbourne
Jah Guide I
Little John
Follow Them Footstep (Aka Those Men Were Great Men)
Anthony Johnson
Jah Loves Us All
Linval Thompson
Mr Big More
The Wailing Souls
Jah Is The Way
Israel Vibration
What You Gonna Do On The Judgement Day
Prince Far I

The Judgement Come
Cornel Campbell
Natty Dread Have Him Credential
Don Carlos
Got To Praise Jah Jah
Tristan Palmer
Mr C.I.D.
Barry Brown
Crisis
Earl Sixteen
Living My Culture
Mikey Brooks
Bad Boy
The Mighty Diamonds
Too Much Pleasure
Leroy Smart
I'm Toiling On
The Viceroys
Motherless Children
Gregory Isaacs
I Want To Know (Only Jah Jah)
Sugar Minott
Every Time I Hear The Word
Prince Far I
Praises Unto Jah
Israel Vibration
Walk With Jah
Charlie Chaplin
What Kind Of Herb
Anthony Johnson
Bring The Sensi Come
Johnny Osbourne
Sensi Man
Bobby Melody

Time - 65:58

Time - 59:38

Time - 64:38

All material Copyright Trojan Records