TROJAN EIGHTIES BOX SET (TJETD253) - Although a much-maligned decade, the eighties signalled an important time in the expansion of popular music. Two major developments were the arrival of the compact disc and MTV. Initially these advances had little effect on the Jamaican music industry - the video channel was initially accused of elitism and Reggae lovers preferred analogue sounds.

However, when the compact disc was first introduced, it was hailed as being almost indestructible and a revolution in recorded sound. As these new discs were promoted, they were subjected to unbelievable abuse before being played to demonstrate their durability. The advantage of digital sound was another acclaimed feature. In fact at the time radio DJs urged their listeners to check out tracks such as Tracy Chapman's a cappella "Behind The Wall". The song was lifted from her highly acclaimed debut album as a perfect example of the clear sounds experienced on compact disc. This leads nicely to our opening track from Sanchez D, who recorded his own interpretation of that song, as well as Tracy's smash hit, "Baby Can I Hold You Tonight". Sanchez, aka Jamaica's Bobby Brown, was sometimes labelled as a "cover-singing fad". On this collection, he lives up to that designation with a sublime version of "Amazing Grace", although that "fad" has now lasted in excess of twenty years.

Sanchez was a new arrival in the eighties, but our opening track comes from the Heptones, who came together in the early sixties. The group embarked on their recording career later that decade with a variety of producers, cutting a series of classics, such as "Fatty Fatty", "Hypocrite", and "Book Of Rules". In spite of a reputation for originality, the Heptones occasionally covered other peoples' songs and to the surprise of many, recorded a fine version of Culture Club's hugely popular Reggae-fied pop hit, "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me".

Next up is established hit maker, Barry Biggs, who continued to enjoy hits in the eighties. In 1983 he peaked at number five in Holland with a version of Evelyn's "Champagne" King's "Love Come Down". This followed his other Dutch chartbuster, "Reflections of My Life".

Another long time legend was the late, great Jackie Edwards. He is most widely remembered for writing the Spencer Davis Group's smash hit, "Keep On Running", but is also celebrated for having maintained a high profile throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties. As this set concentrates on the eighties, what better example of his work could there be than his version of Diana Ross and Lionel Ritchie's "Endless Love"?

Everton Bonner found fame as Pliers in the early nineties when he linked up with DJ Chaka Demus, but he began his career in the eighties recording and performing as a soloist. His dancehall style was all the rage and perfectly suited to his version of Whitney Houston's "Didn't We Almost Have It All".

Moving on from a young pretender, we bounce back with a veteran. Motown hugely inspired the renowned Delroy Wilson, although his version of the Four Tops' "When She Was My girl" was recorded by the group after they had left "Hitsville USA".

Two more long standing artists of note are Susan Cadogan and Ruddy Thomas, both of whom have enjoyed mainstream success: Ruddy in tandem with Barry Biggs on the aforementioned "Reflections Of My Life", while Susan hit the big time with her version of "Hurts so good". As a duo they recorded "You Know How To Make Me Feel good", which almost crossed over. As a soloist, Ruddy appears on this collection with an incredible interpretation of "Time For Love" and revisits "Let's Make A Baby", a song that he had originally recorded in the seventies.

Beres Hammond initially performed with Zap Pow before gaining a reputation as a soul singer in Jamaica. In the mid-eighties all that changed when he recorded for Willie Lindo, who produced "What One Dance Can Do". That song inspired Audrey Hall to retort "One Dance Just Wont Do", her first Pop chart hit. While Beres was unable to crack the pop market, his Reggae credibility was assured with the release of "She Loves Me Now" and the suitably titled "Groovy Little Thing". Like Audrey, Sophia George found international success in the eighties when her "Girlie Girlie" became a massive hit, a song she followed up with an equally popular cover, Echo Minnots's "Lazy Body".

Although already a massive star in the seventies, Dennis Brown's popularity continued throughout the eighties as illustrated by his three classic hits released early in the decade: "Have You Ever", "Sitting And Watching" and "Hold On To What You Got". Like Dennis, Freddie McGregor began his career at Studio One and in the eighties he toured with the specially named Studio One Band, promoting his album "All In The Same Boat", which included the chart-prodding "Push Comes To Shove", as well as our featured hits, the sublime "Somewhere", and the aforementioned title track.

Male vocalists inspired by the Lovers Rock phenomenon relished a high profile in the eighties, and Gregory Isaacs was no exception. He opened the decade with releases from sessions with the Rhythm Twins who produced "Soon Forward", and "Oh What A Feeling", while he also hit with the self-produced "Tune In".

Like Freddie McGregor and Dennis Brown, Calvin 'Cocoa Tea' Scott began his career in his adolescence, although it was not until 1983 that listeners began to appreciate his inspirational vocals. His first hotshots were recorded for one of the most successful producers of the eighties, the late lamented Henry 'Junjo' Lawes. With Junjo he released our selections "Rocking Dolly" and "I've Lost My Sonia" which subsequently featured on his assertively and accurately-titled debut album 'Wha' Them A Go do, Can't Stop Cocoa Tea'.

Our next act, Israel vibration, were all victims of a polio epidemic that swept Jamaica in the fifties. In the seventies the trio formed a vocal group and embarked on a successful career that continues to this day, albeit latterly as a duo. Their debut came in 1976 when they released "Why Worry", a hit that led to sessions with the Fat Man rhythm section with RAS in the eighties. One of their most favoured hits was "Highway Robbery", which was acclaimed as a highlight of Jamaica's Reggae Sunsplash Festival in 1982.

The late Glen Holness rose to prominence performing as Nitty Gritty, under which name he found success riding the computerised rhythms that proved particularly popular in the dancehall. Along with "Hog In A Minty" and "Give Me Some Of Your something" he hit the big time with the celebratory "Sweet Reggae Music". Nitty's vocal style was incomparable, yet there was no shortage of challengers, such as our next performer, Ripton 'Eek A Mouse' Hylton, whose unique phrasing and singing style became as instantly recognisable as his six-foot frame. Following his success with "Wah Do Dem" he maintained his 'uneek' popularity with this 1983 smash, "Assassinator". Eek A Mouse might have been considered Jamaica's number one mic chanter in the eighties were it not for the albino superstar 'King' Yellowman. The DJ famously overcame a series of setbacks and before some culpable releases he carried the swing. Here he performs hits such as his version of Lerner & Lowe's "I'm Getting Married In The Morning", suitably titled "Divorced", and laters drops it inna cultural style with "The Ark".

While the DJs were mashing up the dance, the sound system singers continued to relish their notoriety. One such performer was Anthony 'Gunshot' Johnson who appears in fine style performing the sanguine "I'm Coming Home".

The second artist whom we haven't already discussed on disc two, is Boris Gardiner, the singer/musician/arranger who achieved notoriety in 1986 when he returned to the UK Pop chart after fifteen years. He initially found fame with "Elizabethan Reggae" in 1970 and subsequently topped the charts with the Lovers' style of "I Wanna wake up With you". Following his chart topper he continued to release hits including "Guilty", which proved particularly popular with country music fans.

Moving on, the late lamented Barry Brown performs in a mellow eighties style as he covers "Rain From The Skies" before offering his more familiar militant style with the dancehall favourite "Politician".

Another long-established artist who reigned supreme in the eighties was John Holt. At the start of the decade he was considered middle-of-the-road, although he soon proved that his career was far from over. His continued success could be credited to Henry 'Junjo' Lawes who produced "Sweetie come Brush Me". this led to hits such as "Queen Of The ghetto", "Fat She Fat" and "Police In Helicopter". Around the time of that release, Carlton Livingstone's "ne Hundred Weight A Collie Weed" was coming not only from St. Anne's, but from every sound system speaker in Jamaica. inspired by this, we have chosen the beguiling, "Miss Know It All", a track that highlights his understated vocal skills. In contrast to Carlton's muted style, Peter Broggs "Rastafari Liveth" demonstrates why he was chosen to launch the mighty RAS label. Here he performs the title track from the Washington-based label's debut LP.

In 1983, Jah Thomas revived the career of Michael Palmer when he produced the spirited "Ghetto Dance", which led to the release of the foundation hit, "Come Natural". As well as producing Michael Palmer's hits, Jah Thomas also worked with the previously mentioned Echo Minott, whose finger-clicking "Girl Of My Complexion" rides a familiar rhythm.

It was Lyndon 'Half Pint' Roberts who inspired the Rolling Stones to record "Winsome". However, for our look at the eighties we give greetings with the wonderful "What's Going Down", one of Lyndon's many hits in the period that followed the digital revolution in Jamaican music.

We continue inna retro eighties style with the conscious DJ Richard 'Charlie Chaplin' Bennett who talks about "Labrish". He originally performed on the Peoples' Choice sound system in tandem with Red dragon, who can be heard here on "Jump Up". After leaving the Peoples' Choice, Charlie performed on the Sturgav sound system alongside Brigadier Jerry, who appears on this set performing the celebratory "Jamaica Jamaica", the track that led RAS to release the favoured album of the same title. While Jamaican Jamaican's enjoyed the cultural style, there was room for diversity amongst the island's mic chanters, as evidenced by Supercat who performs the braggadocio "Nuff Don" Supercat came into this world as William Maragh and learnt his DJ skills together with Early B, aka The Doctor. The cat's mentor appears later in this collection on "Girls dem Sexy", and although the Doctor is sadly no longer with us, he has left a legacy of some truly memorable tunes.

In the dancehall, singers such as Nitty gritty, Half Pint and Michael Palmer seem to have inspired a whole tool kit. Artists such as the aforementioned Pliers, as well as Spanner Banner and Tenor Saw followed Pinchers to greater success. Pinchers emerged around the mid-eighties; by the time he released "Don't Trouble Trouble", he was well established, having topped Reggae charts around the world with "Bandelero". That song was produced by King Jammy who is accredited alongside Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd for reviving the fortunes of Johnny Osbourne. Curiously, in the eighties Johnny was considered an overnight success, this was because after recording "Come Back Darling" in 1969, he had left Jamaica and moved to Canada. On his return, he re-established his career and recorded for a number of producers, including Jah Thomas who released the suitably titled 'Rub A Dub Session'. The song refers to the dancehall experience and in response to the popularity of their dub plates on sound systems, the Mighty Diamonds recorded the blazing "Kick Up Rumpus".

The Mighty Diamonds have been performing together for over thirty years and in contrast, groups such as the African Brothers appeared fleetingly before the individual singers pursued solo careers. Indeed our next performer Tony Tuff, began his career in that group before going on to enjoy a series of solo hits including "Mix Me Down", "Water Pumpee" and "Sweet Reggae Music".

Closing the set is the veteran DJ Dillinger who proved that he could still produce strong hits in the eighties. He enrolled the help of Trinity and Al Campbell for the accurately titled "Three The Hard Way". The track is a perfect description of the contents of this box, which goes some way towards proving that the eighties were just as hot as any other period in the history of Jamaican music.

Wheel and come again.

Stephen Nye

DISC 1

DISC 2

DISC 3

Do You Really Want To Hurt Me
The Heptones
Love Come Down
Barry Biggs
Endless Love
Jackie Edwards
Baby Can I Hold You Tonight
Sanchez
Didn't We Almost Have It All
Pliers
When She Was My Girl
Delroy Wilson
You Know How To Make Me Feel Good
Susan Cadogan & Ruddy Thomas
What One Dance Can Do
Beres Hammond
Lazy Body
Sophia George
Have You Ever
Dennis Brown
Somewhere
Freddie MacGregor
Soon Forward
Gregory Isaacs
Rocking Dolly
Cocoa Tea
Highway Robbery
Israel Vibration
Sweet Reggae Music
Nitty Gritty
Assassinator
Eek A Mouse
Divorced
Yellowman

She Loves Me Know
Beres Hammond
I Lost My Sonia
Cocoa Tea
Oh What A Feeling
Gregory Isaacs
All In The Same Boat
Freddie MacGregor
I Am Coming Home
Anthony Johnson
Hold On To What You Got
Dennis Brown
Breezin'
Boris Gardiner
Time For Love
Ruddy Thomas
Rain From The Sky
Barry Brown
Amazing Grace
Sanchez
Sweetie Come Brush Me
John Holt
Miss Know It All
Carlton Livingstone
Rastafari Liveth
Peter Broggs
Come Natural
Michael Palmer
Girl Of My Complexion
Echo Minott
What's Going Down
Half Pint
Politician
Barry Brown

Sitting And Watching
Dennis Brown
Labrish
Charlie Chaplin
Groovy Little Thing
Beres Hammond
Nuff Don
Supercat
Positive
Black Uhuru
Jamaica Jamaica
Brigadier Jerry
Tune In
Gregory Isaacs
Don't Trouble Trouble
Pinchers
Kick Up Rumpus
The Mighty Diamonds
The Ark
Yellowman
Rub A Dub Session
Johnny Osbourne
Jump Up
Red Dragon
Sweet Reggae Music
Tony Tuff
Girls Dem Sexy
Early B
Let's Make A Baby
Ruddy Thomas
Three The Hard Way
Al Campbell, Trinity & Dillinger

Time - 68:47

Time - 61:04

Time - 63:25

All material Copyright Trojan Records