Ranking Trevor

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Ranking Trevor has been largely ignored by the archivists, a peculiar oversight, as the DJ was a major force in the sound systems on both sides of the Atlantic during the roots age. Most of his recordings…
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Ranking Trevor has been largely ignored by the archivists, a peculiar oversight, as the DJ was a major force in the sound systems on both sides of the Atlantic during the roots age. Most of his recordings remain infuriatingly out of print, and his singles and albums, now with hefty price tags attached, are much sought after by collectors. Born Trevor Grant in Jamaica on January 20, 1960, the toaster to be fell under U-Roy's spell in childhood. He never completely shook the Originator's influence, but no matter, for Ranking Trevor had an equally sharp sense of timing and relaxed delivery that never went out of fashion in this period. Eager for success, Grant was barely into his teens when he began professionally DJing, honing his skills at the Socialist Roots Sound System. He was all of 15 when Jo Jo Hookim took him into the studio for the first time, where he cut 1975's "Natty a Roots Man." Over the next few years Trevor recorded a steady stream of singles for Hookim, all backed by the Revolutionaries, with his popularity increasing proportionally.

By 1977, the teen star was shaking up the British reggae chart as well, with "Cave Man Skank," "Three Piece Chicken & Chips" (a humorous riposte to Trinity's "Three Piece Suit"), and "Anti-Lulu" all hitting the Top Ten. "Pure & Clean" and "Rub a Dub Style" followed them up the chart in 1978. By then, the DJ had signed a deal with Virgin's Frontline imprint, the resulting In Fine Style album, which arrived that same year, proving wildly popular. Beyond hits like "Rub a Dub Style" and "Masculine Gender," it also included splendid versions of "Satta Massa Ganna" and "Queen Majesty." Meanwhile, back in Jamaica, Hookim also unleashed the Three Piece Chicken & Chips split set, which set Trevor head to head with Trinity himself. The former won that round, as Hookim stuffed it with Trevor's latest hits -- the title track, "Lulu," "Love Yu Sister," and, best of all, "Answer Me Question," a retort to Lone Ranger's "Question."

In 1979, Trevor linked up with singing producer Linval Thompson, resulting in the following year's Repatriation Time, a set again recorded at Channel One and backed by the Revolutionaries. The following year, Prince Jammy remixed a clutch of Thompson, Wayne Jarrett, and Trevor recordings for the simmering Train to Zion Dub set. For Repatriation, Trevor took on a new moniker, Ranking Superstar, which explains why producer Sugar Minott titled the DJ's excellent next set Presenting Ranking Trevor. Both Minott and Thompson were featured alongside the DJ on the Roots of All Roots set released by Micron later in the decade.

Although Ranking Trevor's albums were fine showcases, some of his best work is found on 12" singles, with his versions paired with the vocal cuts. One of the first was "Trod On," a combo with Culture; he was paired to equal effect with Pat Kelly, the Mighty Three, Wayne Wade, Barrington Levy, Al Campbell, and -- most memorably -- the Wailing Souls. Greensleeves inaugurated their 12" vinyl reissue series with Trevor and the Souls' 1978 "War"/"Jah Give Us Life" single. However, one of the toaster's biggest sellers was "Jamaican Rockers Hop," a combo with fellow DJ Nicodemus. Trevor's successful appearance at the Brixton Ace in 1983 prompted his relocation to London, and his career suffered accordingly. Little emerged in the aftermath, although in recent years the DJ again began making live appearances. He has also been working to regain rights to his back catalog, with a view toward reissuing it all on vinyl.