Sunday, March 17, 2013


"TROJAN ROOTS BOX SET": One of the first of Trojan's 3-CD box set releases that package a good portion of their vast catalogue, the roots set has to be at the top of the heap. Though not comprehensive (Since it's limited to Trojan's archives, artists are repeated.), this is about as good an embodiment of roots reggae as there is available. Included are well-known standards -- like Prince Far I's "Under Heavy Manners," The Silvertones' "Rejoice Jah Jah Children" (along with a clearer dub version, "African Dub"), Johnny Clarke's rocking "None Shall Escape the Judgement," Dennis Brown's classic "Africa," and Lee "Scratch" Perry's "Words" (AKA "Words of My Mouth") -- but it is the more obscure tunes that truly make this set memorable (I only wish that Trojan would've put some more effort into their liner notes so we could find out more about them.). Where else can you find gems from unfamiliar acts like The Jay Boys, The Shadows, Truth Fact & Correct, The Sons of Selassie, Lizzard, and The Velvet Shadows? Even though you probably don't know them, believe me, their anonymity doesn't take away from the quality of their work. Although most of this music harks from the '70s, they ring like new in the ears of those many listeners who haven't previously had the privilege of experiencing them. Disc One contains the most sure-shots -- from "Rejoice Jah Jah Children" to Cornell Campbell's "Jah Jah Me No Born Yah" to Johnny Osbourne's "Purify Your Heart" to the lesser-known "Burn Babylon" by Sylford Walker and "Brother Noah" by The Shadows, among others. Disc 2 (the weakest of the 3) highlights include "Africa," "Under Heavy Manners," The Abyssinians' "Yim Mas Gan," and The Ethiopians' "Hail Brother Rasta Brother Hail." Disc 3 concludes the set on a high note with "Words," The Mighty Diamonds' "Ghetto Living," Delroy Wilson's classic (despite sounding like it was recorded in a well) "Adisabab," along with the more obscure duo of Lizzard and The Velvet Shadows performing "Milk and Honey" and "Babylon a Fall Down," respectively. This is crucial stuff; a must-have for beginners and seasoned roots fans alike. (Reggae Reviews)Unlike other forms of Jamaican music 'Roots Reggae' has no precise definition. The term refers not to a particular genre, but rather the message conveyed by the lyric. In essence, any song reflecting a strong cultural theme can fall into the category and although by this definition 'Roots' records has existed throughout the history of Jamaican music, it was not until the seventies that the term came into common usage. It was during this decade that the majority of Jamaican songwriters began to focus upon social injustice and the teachings of the Rastafarian faith, which by this time had become the islands fastest growing religion.
Drawing their inspiration primarily from Judaism and Egyptian mysticism, the early Rastafarian leaders also incorporated the teachings of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, a forceful defender of black rights throughout the early 1900's. Garvey claimed Ethiopia to be the true homeland of the black race and it was this precept which became a cornerstone for the religion. Many Rasta elders also claimed Garvey prophesied the redemption of all black peoples by an Ethiopian king, although there is no evidence to support this assertion. None the less, when the Prince Regent of Abyssinia, Ras Tafari Makennen was crowned Negusa Negust and assumed the official title of Emperor Haile Selassie I on November 2nd 1930, many believed the prophecy to be fulfilled and that deliverance for the black race was at hand.
The first concentration of Rasta followers settled in encampments around Jamaica's eastern hills, but by the early sixties, growing numbers had moved into suburban areas. There, the religion proved particularly compelling to the local populous, taking a firm foothold in many of the poorer districts. It was the incredible scenes of euphoria during the state visit of Emperor Haile Selasie on April 21st 1966, however, which brought Rastafarianism to the attention of the Jamaican public at large. By the early seventies, it's influence became increasingly apparent in the island's music, with artists such as Max Romeo, The Abyssinians, The Ethiopians and Bob Marley & The Wailers among the first to extol the faith. A few years later, it's doctrines had become the predominant theme throughout Jamaican music, with established stars and a new generation of performers alike advocating the Rasta faith and it's emphasis on black consciousness. It was around this time that the term 'Roots' began to be widely used to describe such releases, as illustrated by Bob Marley's 1976 hit "Roots Reggae Rock".
Throughout the remainder of the decade, the religion continued to exert a profound influence on Reggae songsmiths, but with the passing of it's most prominent exponent, Bob Marley, it lost it's most powerful voice. Over the years that have followed, Rastafarianism has played an ever diminishing role in Reggae, with more and more younger performers less inclined to embrace it's teachings. And although 'Roots' music still has a place within contemporary Jamaican music, it's themes are predominantly preached by the older, more established acts.
The 50 tracks on this collection date primarily from the seventies - a period widely acknowledged as the golden age of 'Roots' music. These recordings reflect the broad spectrum of performers who incorporated songs of a cultural and religious nature into their repertoire - from the likes of Delroy Wilson, Cornell Campbell, Peter Tosh, The Heptones and The Viceroys all of whom had actively been making music since the sixties - to more youthful performers, such as Sugar Minott, Johnny Clarke, Linval Thompson and Big Youth, who made their mark the following decade.
Finally, if you do not entirely agree with all that is conveyed within the lyrics of these songs, focus upon the quality of the performances and enjoy these recordings for what they are - Reggae at it's most sublime. (Savage Jaw)

trax CD 1:
1. Cool Rasta - The Heptones 2. I A Man African - The Sons Of Selassie 3. Rise In The Strength Of Jah - The Viceroys 4. Rise Jah Jah Children - Ras Michael & The Sons Of Negus 5. I And I Are The Chosen One - Prince Far I 6. Brother Noah - The Shadows 7. Jah Jah Bless The Dreadlocks - Mighty Diamonds 8. Africa Is The Black Man's Home - Sugar Minott 9. None Shall Escape The Judgement - Johnny Clarke 10. History - Carlton Jackson 11. Purify Your Heart - Johnny Osbourne 12. Jah Jah Me No Born Yah - Cornell Campbell 13. Rasta Dreadlocks - The Heaven Singers 14. Burn Babylon - Sylford Walker 15. Psalm 68 - Horace Andy 16. Rejoice Jah Jah Children - The Silvertones 17. Dread Is Best - Big Youth
trax CD 2:
1. Under Heavy Manners - Prince Far I 2. Arise Black Man - Peter Tosh 3. Yim Mas Gan - The Abbyssinians 4. Babylon Falling - The Heptones 5. Hail Brother Rasta Hall - The Ethiopians 6. Enter Into His Gates With Praise - Johnny Clarke 7. African People - Jah Boy 8. City Too Hot - Lee "Scratch" Perry 9. Africa - Dennis Brown 10. Jah Fire - George Boswell 11. Dread In Babylon - Big Youth 12. Talk About It - Mighty Diamonds 13. Free Jah Jah Children - Sugar Minott 14. Black Man's Time - Neville Grant 15. Babylon Wrong - Ashanti Waugh 16. Keep Cool Babylon - Ras Michael & The Sons Of Negus
trax CD 3:
1. Babylon A Fall Down - Velvet Shadows 2. Never Gonna Give Up Jah - Sugar Minott 3. Nyah Man - Johnny Osbourne 4. Unity - Ras Michael & The Sons Of Negus 5. Moving On To Zion - Johnny Clarke 6. African Dub - The Silvertones 7. The Coming Of Jah - Max Romeo 8. Ten Dread Commandments - Mr. Bojangles 9. Condition Bad A Yard - The Ethiopians 10. Babylon Deh Pon Fire - Truth, Fact & Correct 11. Ghetto Living - Mighty Diamonds 12. Adisabab - Delroy Wilson 13. Words - Anthony "Sangie" Davis & Lee Perry 14. Milk And Honey - Lizzard 15. The Judgement Come - Cornell Campbell 16. Mistry Babylon - The Heptones 17. I Love Marijuana - Linval Thompson
...served by Gyro1966...