Classic Reggae: The DeeJays

Various Artists

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Classic Reggae: The DeeJays Review

by Jo-Ann Greene

A great introduction to the world of early Jamaican DJs, this 15-track compilation showcases the progenitors, the Originator, the stars, and the also rans. The Originator was U-Roy, of course, the first superstar DJ, and his debut hit "Wake The Town" kicks off this set. In reality, though, U-Toy was not the first of the island's DJs, nor even the first to cut a single. There were many before him -- Count Machuki, Lord Stitt, and Sir Lord Comic included. The last two are both featured here, and their influence upon the next generation of DJs is evident. In the wake of U-Roy's breakthrough, every producer on the island grabbed DJs and thrust them into the studio to chatter over old rhythm tracks. In swift succession, Dennis Alcapone, I-Roy, and Big Youth followed U-Roy up the chart and into the realm of household names. This trio of toasters all appear here with some of their greatest cuts. With the market moving wholesale into the sound systems, a number of vocalists crossed into this new genre. Scotty, who began his career with the vocal group the Federals, is just one example. Dave Barker pursued DJing and vocal work simultaneously, and his sweet vocal cuts were always a surprising counterpoint to his excellent soul-laced toasting tracks. In an age glutted with chatterers, inevitably some would fall by the wayside. Charlie Ace cut quite a few fabulous singles, but never was able to challenge the top tier. Jah Woosh and Samuel the First never made it to the big leagues either, but not for lack of talent. Dillinger certainly did, but "Cocaine in My Brain" was such a monster hit that it devoured everything else the DJ did. Unfortunately, Music Club has mistakenly included the rhythm track of that hit here, not the DJ version; hopefully the correct one will be substituted in later pressings. By no means the ultimate compilation, The Dee Jays, however, is an excellent starting point.

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