Don't Check Me with No Lightweight Stuff (1972-1975)

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Like most Jamaican stars, I-Roy was prolific to the point of deluging the market with releases, but unlike many other artists, most of his work during the apex of his career was all of decidedly high caliber. A box set is desperately needed to round up the best of his work during the '70s, but as that's unlikely, Don't Check Me With No Lightweight Stuff is an excellent start. The title, incidentally, is taken from a spoken line in the intro to "Look a Boom," and is appropriate, as the set rounds up 16 heavy-hitting numbers. The collection draws exclusively from 1972-1975, the period between his breakthrough in Jamaica and his inking a deal with Virgin Records. Across this three-year period, I-Roy unleashed scores of singles, self-producing some while also cutting records for virtually every producer on the island. However, this is by no means a greatest-hits collection, as a number of the DJ's biggest smashes, "Black Man Time," "Monkey Fashion," and "Tripe Girl," are missing. However, you do get "Buck and the Preacher," an equal chart-buster, the seminal "Sidewalk Killer," and "Holy Satta," his Psalm-filled version of the Abyssinians' masterpiece, "Satta Massa Gana." One of I-Roy's many fortes was his thematic diversity, and his toasts ranged from Rasta-fired preaching inspired by the Psalms, strong societal messages, and chatty pieces on more popular concerns to sharp, rousing cuts aimed at firing up the crowds at the sound systems. This set showcases his versatility, his excitement at the latest black films ("Superfly" and the aforementioned "Buck and the Preacher"), keenness for literacy ("Sound Education"), condemnations of anti-social behavior ("Noisy Place" and "Hot Stuff"), and warnings to the wicked ("Double Warning" and "Hospital Trolley"). The DJ pays his respects to saxophonist Tommy McCook on "Sidewalk Killer," and offers comfort to a boxing great on the superb "Don't Get Weary Joe Frazier." Every one of the numbers boasts a superb musical accompaniment, all skillfully reworking rhythms into sizzling mixes that provide the perfect template for I-Roy's toasts. As one has come to gratefully expect from the Blood & Fire label, the album includes a sumptuous booklet, with a bio written from an interview with the late DJ, plus information on each track. By far, Don't Check Me is the best collection of the artist currently available.

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