TROJAN SOULFUL REGGAE BOX SET (TRBCD021) - Disc 1 - Jamaica has always enjoyed close links with America, a fact reflected in many walks of life on the island. But none more so than music. Indeed, the early sound systems built their reputations on playing the best in American R&B. After the latter gave up it's popularity in favour of Jamaican recordings, it wasn't until the late sixties and seventies that American music's influence was seen to such a degree again. And this time it was the sound of Soul that dominated. Perhaps this was partly due to the American civil rights movement, which inspired songs of black awareness. Given the social and political conditions in Jamaica, these songs had a captive audience amongst the sufferer class. Before long, Reggae adaptations of Soul hits were regularly notching up big sales. The most notable example of this is Bob Andy & Marcia Griffiths's cover of Young, Gifted & Black, which hit the UK charts. Not only did it help break Reggae to a wider audience in the UK, but it marked a swing towards a more sophisticated style of presentation, and the final burial of "Skinhead Reggae".

The first sequence of tracks presents seventeen Reggae covers, concentrating on the Tamla Motown stable. We open with the Smokey Robinson classic Tears Of A Clown, by the Chosen Few. The latter feature heavily on this box set, and not without good reason. After the vocal harmony group became unfashionable in Jamaica at the end of the sixties, they were one of the few groups who found a niche for themselves. Working with singer/producer Derrick Harriott resulted in some huge hits for them, and the latter, for whom they provided backing vocals on a number of classic sellers. Lloyd Charmers also built his popularity on covers of Soul hits during this period, and together with Harriott, they became Jamaica's leading producers within the genre.

Disc 2 - This second selection throws the spotlight on a slightly heavier sound. Although Motown dominated in the sixties with a clean cut presentation, their position was steadily eroded by a more funky style in the first half of the seventies, and a number of their top performers left. We open with the Reggae take on James Brown's Make It Funky, appropriately re-titled here. Following in similar vein we have the Soul Messengers, and one of the best UK based groups of the period - Matumbi. During their association with Trojan Records, Matumbi were encouraged to record cover versions, something which they did extremely well. Both of their tracks on this disc are perfect examples, ranging from their adaptation of the dance orientated (Can't Get Enough Of That) Funky Stuff, to a straight cover of the Temptations social protest song Law Of The Land. Their third track can be found on Disc 3, a cover of Hot Chocolate's poignant Brother Louie.

Following their split with Motown, The Temptations recorded some much heavier material for producer Norman Whitfield. And as the mainstream market opened up, social protest songs from a black perspective became increasingly acceptable, and popular. Stop The War (Now) falls into this category, written in protest against the Vietnam war. Times were certainly changing, and 1971 saw the release of the groundbreaking film Shaft, featuring Richard Roundtree, and a classic film score from Isaac Hayes. The Chosen Few provided two takes from the film, their over of the theme tune, and the heavyweight Do Your Thing. Other historically important cuts include Derrick Harriott's covers of Message From A Blackman, Brown Baby, and the Chosen Few's Am I Black Enough, all of which were instrumental in attacking racial barriers. And within the Reggae context, they were also completely compatible with the emerging Roots movement.

Disc 3 - As the seventies progressed, the UK and Billboard charts bore witness to the rise of groups like the Hughes Corporation, Chilites and Stylistics, plus artists like Bill Withers, Billy Paul and Al Green. Hits from all of the aforementioned were translated to the Jamaican medium, and are featured here on this final selection. Unlike the previous two discs, the emphasis this time is on love songs. Again, the Chosen Few provide some superb tracks. The fact they recorded for several producers, underlines their skill. Opening with the Derrick Harriott produced Everybody Plays The Fool, they sweep convincingly through You're A Big Girl Now (also Harriott), followed by Stoned In Love (produced by Lloyd Charmers), and finish with the King Sporty production In The Rain. The latter was recorded in Miami during 1974, but didn't see release until 1976 when Trojan Records issued the group's third album. The original of the song, was done by Mel & Tim for the Stax label.

Another group who became popular by recording covers, are Inner Circle. They feature in this set with three tracks, the third of which is an instrumental, originally recorded as a plug for the Philadelphia label - the letters stand for The Sound Of Philadelphia. Al Brown, Reggae's counterpart to the American singer/preacher Al Green, closes this box set with an extended take of Green's Love And Happiness, backed by Skin, Flesh & Bones - one of the most successful backing bands at the time. Indeed, they backed Brown when he appeared on the same billing as the Rolling Stones at the Hyde Park Festival in 1974. A number of the tracks featured on this box set are drawn from Trojan's Just My Imagination series, which extended to four volumes (CDTRL 286, 298, 311 & 328). Together with Sounds Of The Seventies (CDTRL 321), all five are well worth investigating in their entirety if you like your Reggae with Soul.

Chris Pete (Let's Catch The Beat)

DISC 1

DISC 2

DISC 3

Tears Of A Clown
Chosen Few
My Guy
Joe White
You Keep Me Hanging On
Mike Dorane
Let's Get It On
Ken Boothe
I Second That Emotion
Chosen Few
I Can't Get Next To You
Jay Boys
It's All In The Game
Gaylads
I'll Be There
Barry Biggs
Touch Me In The Morning
John Holt
Midnight Train To Georgia
Teddy Brown
Ain't No sunshine
Ken Boothe
You Are Everything
Chosen Few
Since I Lost My Baby
Derrick Harriott & The Chosen Few
One Bad Apple
Barry Biggs
Living For The City
Pat Rhoden
Just My Imagination
Lloyd Charmers
Boogie On reggae Woman
Pat Rhoden

Make It Reggae
Shark Wilson & The Basement Heaters
Do It (Till You're Satisfied)
Soul Messengers
Reggae Stuff
Matumbi
Children Of The Night
Chosen Few
Crowded City
Messengers
Shaft
Chosen Few
Ooh Child
Bruce Ruffin
Stop The War Now
Lloyd Parks
Law Of The Land
Matumbi
Am I Black Enough
Chosen Few
Brown Baby
Derrick Harriott
Do Your Thing
Chosen Few
Message From A Blackman
Derrick Harriott & The Chosen Few
People Make The World Go Around
Chosen Few
Breezin'
Mickie Chung
Papa Was A Rolling Stone
Pioneers

Everybody Plays The Fool
Chosen Few
Lean On Me
B.B. Seaton
Break Up To Make Up
Leroy Sibbles
Homely Girl
Inner Circle
You're A Big Girl Now
Chosen Few
If You Don't Know Me By Now
Zap Pow
Me And Mrs. Jones
Joe White
Kung Fu Fighting
Lloyd Parks
Have You Seen Her
Derrick Harriott & The Chosen Few
Rock The Boat
Inner Circle
Stoned In Love
Chosen Few
You Make Me feel Brand New
Boris Gardner
Love On A Two Way Street
Lewis Sisters
Brother Louie
Matumbi
In The Rain
Chosen Few
T.S.O.P.
Inner Circle
Love And Happiness
Al Brown

Time - 51:43

Time - 54:33

Time - 60:36

All material Copyright Trojan Records