Various Artists

Dancehall Essentials in a Rub-A-Dub Style

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Bookended by two vocal classics from the period -- Dennis Brown's "Sitting and Watching" and Gregory Isaacs' "Night Nurse" -- this 18-track compilation of early dancehall cuts offers a perfect document of the momentous musical changes that bridged the gap between '70s roots reggae and '90s ragga. Re-cutting vintage Studio One and Treasure Isle rhythms (a practice started by Bunny Lee in the mid '70s), young producers like Henry "Junjo" Lawes, Sly & Robbie, Prince Jammy, and Errol "Don" Mais brought the trends of the dancehall back to wax with slicked-up roots and rockers tracks from toasters, singers, and dub alchemists alike. Featuring both the Roots Radics' steely tough backing and Sly & Robbie's proto-digital synth drum grooves, their innovative production work is heard to fine effect here on tracks by Yellowman, Eek-A-Mouse ("Wa Do Dem"), the Mighty Diamonds ("Pass the Kouchie"), and Barrington Levy ("Prison Oval Rock"). And not to be overlooked, Michigan & Smiley do their tag-team DJ best, Scientist delivers one of his apocalyptic dubs, General Echo brings the slackness, and Sugar Minott revels in his prime. One of the better vintage dancehall samplers to come along in a while.

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