by: Jarret Lovell
Big Youth - Dreadlocks Dread - (Frontline)
Like U-Roy, Big Youth made his name as a special kind of performer - a DJ who would engage in toasting, a vocal style somewhere between speaking and rapping. In the early days of dancehall, DJs played an important role speaking over vocal and dub tracks and beckoning people to join a particular yard party. Often, DJs from rival sound-systems would compete for patrons via vocal stylings. After a while, the DJs became celebrities themselves and earning recording contracts, speaking truths about life in Kingston, about dating, and about life as a Rastafarian over previously recorded records. So track #6 features Big Youth toasting about Marcus Garvey over Burning Spear's classic track of the same title. Other tracks may similarly be familiar. "Big Youth Special" (#7) is a nice instrumental, less a dub than a fun experimentation with a harmonica. The remaining tracks are are instrumentals and quite nice. Play this classic DJ album, DJ!
Inner Circle – The Best of Inner Circle - (Trojan Records)
Sometimes, a hit “pop” song can be a curse on a band. Too often, one song in an artist’s lengthy discography can overshadow what is frequently better, more substantive material. A case in point just may be Inner Circle. Best known for having penned “Bad Boys” – the song used for the reality TV show COPS, certainly a good song! – Inner Circle’s history dates back to the 1970s when they recorded with a different vocalist and a different sound. Led by the great vocalist Jacob Miller, who became a great solo artist as well, Inner Circle began with its roots (pun intended) firmly planted in Rastafarianism. Songs we politically conscious and spiritually aware, led by Miller’s distinct voice. They were among Jamaica’s top reggae acts, performing at the famed One Love Peace Concert in 1978. The sudden death of Jacob Miller in a 1980 car crash ended this incarnation of the band. The band later reformed in the 1980s in Miami, and adopted the more pop-oriented sound for which they are most widely known outside of Jamaica. Nevertheless, the collection here features early works of Inner Circle, with songs by Bob Marley, Johnny Clarke, Leroy Sibbles, Stevie Wonder and – of course, Jacob Miller