Various Artists

500% Dynamite!

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Like its four predecessors, 500% Dynamite! is a diverse, lean collection of the old and the new, the rare and the classic. Since the release of the first volume in the series, 100% Dynamite, the Soul Jazz label has been showcasing what patrons of the label-affiliated 100% Dynamite club have been treated to upon entering their ranks. That includes music from Jamaica of every stripe -- be it dancehall, dub, roots, ska, lovers rock. You name it. So on this 12-track collection, you get another gamut-spanning batch of songs that mingle with each other without leaving you overwhelmed and winded due to a wide reach. Songs recorded 30 years apart butt up against each other and disparate styles link arms without making a rough ride. Melodica king Augustus Pablo's "East of the River Nile" is followed by the brat-a-tat-tat dancehall of Red Rat's "Goody 2 Shoes." The sweet, unconditional lovers rock of Marcia Aitken's "I'm Still in Love" is preceded by Tiger Ranks' "Party Wit Me," a spectacular dancehall spin on Eminem's "My Name Is." Not-so-obvious selections from legends like ska pioneer Byron Lee ("Frankenstein") and roots legend Freddie McGregor ("Natural Collie") hold their own against classic dub from Joe Gibbs ("African Dub, Chapter Three") and roots from the renegade Jacob Miller ("Healing of the Nation.") What is most admirable about this series is how it doesn't merely dig up buried treasures and old standards in a bid to show how Jamaican music was better at some point "back then" and how things have somehow gone downhill since. Instead, this takes the approach that music of all eras is part of one big stew, with a constant dialog taking place between the generations. Gaps and roots are washed away by paths and routes.

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