Action Packed

Chicken Chest / Leslie Thunder

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Action Packed Review

by Steven McDonald

My, how reggae has changed. My, how reggae hasn't changed. Chicken Chest is a Jamaican DJ (essentially a rapper, but usually more musical) who blends old-style toasting with the more recent "computer" style of reggae -- the riddims here sound like they're out of a drum box, even when they aren't, even though the basslines sound as though they're from a bass guitar. Chicken Chest follows in the semi-serious, semi-humorous vein of DJs -- "Pick Up A Dictionary" is a pro-literacy number that's engaging, interesting, affecting, funny, and effective.

Action Packed includes dub versions of all the tracks (actually amounting to instrumental extensions of the riddims, making them all sound like Jamdown twelve-inchers) these being handled in a workmanlike but unspectacular way (i.e., none of those maniacal studio tricks engaged in by people like Mikey Dread). In addition, it also introduces another DJ, Leslie Thunder, found by Chicken Chest, backing him up here (as well as trading off some of the vocal lines on a couple of numbers).

There's some social commentary here; not as much as the liner notes would make you think, but enough to make the album a less frivolous attempt than might be thought. Aside from everything else, it's over an hour's worth of interesting riddim, going down easy and activating the feet. Not bad at all.

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