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» GUEST RUNDOWNS, NEW RELEASES » ALBUM REVIEW BY MARLON BURRELL: “MORE JAMMYS FROM THE ROOTS!”

ALBUM REVIEW BY MARLON BURRELL: “MORE JAMMYS FROM THE ROOTS!”

By Marlon Burrell—

Marlon Burrell

Marlon Burrell

The first volume of the two disc set “Jammys From The Roots” was released in by the VP/ Greensleeves conglomerate in 2010 and concentrated on producer Lloyd “Prince/King Jammy” James productions from the 1977-1985 period. Fours later they follow up with another two disc set titled “More Jammys From The Roots”. This one picks up right where the first one left off, covering 1985-1989. This is at the dawn of the digital revolution in reggae where Jammys productions dominated and enabled him to graduate from prince to king. this is indeed when the change in title occurred. All but three tracks sport a digital riddims.  For those who argue that computers in the Jamaican music studios signaled the demise of conscious material, this project will refute that, as it concentrates on just that.

The cultural songs were not as popular during that period, but they were certainly being made. Artists like Admiral Tibet flew the consciousness flag high during this period up until the early 90’s when artists like Garnett Silk and Luciano made culture reggae popular again. Tibet is featured on two tracks here while Junior Delgado represents with three and Dennis Brown and Junior Murvin have two songs apiece. Names like that will automatically peak a reggae fan’s interest.

MoreJammysFromTheRoots

The late Wayne Smith opens the first disc with “My Lord, My God” where he speaks out against injustices that the black race has suffered through slavery from a spiritual point of view.  He rides a sparse but effective digital riddim that was first used by Dennis Brown on his song “The Exit.” Junior Murvin shines on “Cool Down The Heat” over the Run Down The World riddim. I hardly recognized him as he sings most of the song sans the falsetto voice that he is known for. Then there is Echo Minott singing about “Living In The Ghetto” over a non-digital cut of the “World-A-Music” riddim. Al Campbell and Junior Delgado each take a crack at the popular “Father Jungle Rock” riddim. Campbell represents well with “Can’t Take The Pressure” while Delgado belts out “No Warrior.”

WayneSmith:named

Interestingly enough, the original version of this riddim was made for Delgado’s original version of this same song in 1979 but was titled “Warning” and was his co-production with Dennis Brown. The riddim was named “Father Jungle Rock” after Jammy voiced a tune of that name by Nicodemus on the original track in 1982. Pad Anthony’sDangerous System”  is a worthwhile track as is the only combination tune on this set, “All For One” by Dennis Brown & Leroy Sibbles. What a combination! Two legends in action. Barry Brown’s third rendition in 1989 of his best known song “Far East” is included here. Disc one closes with Junior Murvin’s brilliant “Jack Slick.”

JuniorDelgado2

Disc two gets right down to business with Junior Delgado’s digital scorcher “Illegal Gun”. The heat is turned up a notch with one of only two DJ tunes in this set, Little Twitch’s massive hit “Devil Send You Come.” This is message music at its hardest. Little Kirk’sDon’t Touch The Crack” is a stand out cut that didn’t get the attention it deserved when it was initially released in 1987. Never mind the fact that he was only sixteen years old when he recorded it. Super Black’sBad Boy Gone A Jail” is another boom shot and unheralded classic. Admiral Bailey’sPolitician” is certainly a classic digital DJ masterpiece as he rides the riddim flawlessly while delivering a strong message. Cornel Campbell was already a seasoned veteran singer in 1987 when “Nothing Don’t Come Easy” was released in 1987. His falsetto voice effectively delivers a strong message about hard work despite the grammatically incorrect double negative title. One of Jamaica’s finest songwriters Hopeton Lindo delivers the overlooked “Ghetto Tenement Yard.” I’m totally miffed at why this song wasn’t more popular.

Admiral Tibet

Admiral Tibet

 

Another hidden gem found. One tune that wasn’t overlooked is the dancehall staple “Serious Time” by Admiral Tibet. It never fails to get a forward or a pull up when played. Johnny Osbourne’sDem A Terrorist” is a much sought after and lyrically direct single delivered in digital clarity for the first time. Sugar Minott’s rendition of Sam Cook’sA Change Is Gonna Come” is one of those tunes that flew over my head when it came out but what a welcome addition. Groups from the traditional roots era like Wailing Souls and the appropriately named Cultural Roots also represented socially and spiritually conscious messages well in the digital era and each has a track included from their respective albums for Jammy.

There is a lot to like here. Thirty-two digitally remastered tracks of which many are available in a digital format for the first time. The sound quality is at an optimum as can be expected from a VP/Greensleeves product. There could have been a couple more DJ tracks for balance as Jammys DJs of that era were also spewing out positive lyrics, but I won’t nitpick about that. This is proof that there was music that was both good and positive in the earliest stages of the digital revolution in reggae music. Enjoy!

 

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