Various Artists

300% Dynamite!

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Number three in a series from Soul Jazz Records that also included the fantastic 100% and 200%, 300% Dynamite! continues the exploration into the heart of Jamaican music. Compiled by the Soul Jazz Sound System, the set seamlessly blends musical eras across its 15 tracks. Therefore, Wayne Smith's vibrant, electronic-based hit "Under Me Sleng Teng" from 1985 is found sandwiched between the roots music of Shark Wilson & the Basement Heaters' "Make It Reggae" and Toots & the Maytals' "Broadway Jungle." The former weds a rugged reggae scratch to hard soul; the latter lays down an equally formidable groove and a series of junglistic animal imitations. Also included are Jamaican music kings Lee "Scratch" Perry, Johnny Clarke, Jackie Mittoo, and Augustus Pablo. For its diversity of production techniques, not to mention the sure gusto of its attack, 300% is a window into a unique musical history. Drawing on American soul ("Make It Reggae," Al Brown's "Here I Am"), pop culture/mythology (Randy's Allstars' version of the Mission: Impossible theme, Prince Buster's hilarious "Cincinatti Kid"), and Jamaica's own rocksteady and urban slang, the music emits a unique combination of playfulness, cool, naiveté, toughness, and fire. Given the obscurity of some of the material here, more extensive liner notes would be helpful (track information is nonexistent). Still, being forced to focus exclusively on the wonders of the music at hand is hardly a bad thing. In an age when reissues are continually uncovering every last obscurity, Soul Jazz has managed to point the way to further, under-explored terrain.

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