With a Flick of My Musical Wrist

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Jamaican DJ music came to prominence between 1968-1973. Top DJs like U-Roy and Dennis Alcapone took the shouts and interjections heard on early efforts by originators like King Stitt and Count Machuki and transformed them into self-contained vocal expressions. Being widely used at dances by sound system operators, the kind of raw instrumental tracks (with the vocals having been removed) that were a necessary platform for these toasters were in circulation as early as 1967. Dancehall DJs began to move beyond their lively spoken song introductions and started toasting over these instrumental sides. By 1970, DJs had become performers in their own right and soon began competing with singers for the attention of producers throughout Kingston. And while dub experimentalists deconstructed the many instrumental B-sides that came into vogue, DJs used these same unadulterated grooves to set their thoughts in motion.

One of the top DJs on the island was U-Roy, whose fluid delivery and fertile lyrical attack is heard on a good portion of this fine Trojan collection; standout tracks of his include "Festival Wise" and a version of Delroy Wilson's "You'll Never Get Away" ("You Keep On Running"). The equally engaging and incisive I-Roy is given two cuts, including the amazing Lee "Scratch" Perry-produced "Space Flight," while the highly stylized and roots-conscious Big Youth shines on "Opportunity Rock" and a reworking of the Wailers' "Keep on Moving" (this is a Lee "Scratch" Perry production as well). And rounding things out, there's Cat Campbell's irrepressible track "Hammering," as well as more idiosyncratic fare by King Sporty, Prince Jazzbo, and the completely over-the-top Ramon, backed here by producer Derrick Harriott's studio band the Crystalites. With a Flick of My Musical Wrist is definitely a good first disc for listeners interested in checking out this side of Jamaican music. Those wanting more should pick up Trojan's equally impressive companion collection, Keep on Coming Through the Door.

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