Shanty Town Determination: 1976-1978

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This is a reissue of an obscure classic from the late 1970s, an album made by the young reggae deejay Trinity under the aegis of the great roots singer and producer Yabby You (Vivian Jackson). Trinity was just 22 when he recorded this album, and at this point he owed a tremendous stylistic debt to Big Youth; still, his delivery is original enough and his lyrics clever enough that he sounds less like an imitator than a respectful disciple. Although by this time in his career Trinity had already begun anticipating the materialistic orientation of dancehall reggae (most notably with his huge hit "Three Piece Suit"), Shanty Town Determination consists entirely of "cultural" lyrics -- most of the songs are religious numbers like "Rasta Determination" and "Samson the Strongest Man," but there is also an herb anthem (the archetypal "Quarter Pound a Ishens") and some political material, all of it chanted over Yabby You's finest rhythms and dubbed up by the inimitable King Tubby. This reissue adds five additional selections, including extended mixes of "Z 90," Trinity's personal tribute to Big Youth, and an excellent deejay cut on Slim Smith's "The Beatitude," here titled "Blessed Are the Meek." Fans of the art of chatting should run, not walk, to their local reggae outlet to pick up this one.

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