Ranking Joe

Dub It in a Dance

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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett

Part of the third wave of Jamaican DJs, Ranking Joe (Joseph Jackson) at his performing peak in the late '70s and early '80s was one of the coolest on-the-mike live DJs ever to work the sound systems, and his rapid-fire "fast style" -- which essentially took mentor U-Roy's vocal phrasing and speeded it up -- made tongue-twisting shifts and turns with the tonal skill of a veteran horn man. Dub It in a Dance was recorded at the studios of Channel One and King Tubby in Kingston (Jackson produced it himself), and was released by Trojan Records in 1980. Backed by the Gladiators Band and the Roots Radics, Ranking Joe glides and slides through some fairly slack dancehall toasts, some of which -- like "Cocks Man" -- were considered pretty risqué at the time, although they seem less startling these days in the wake of the rap and hip-hop explosion. Trojan has added five bonus tracks from the period, and the end result is a smooth and compelling DJ set, one that carries, in retrospect, as much shielded tenderness as it does shock value. Highlights include "Beg You to Be True," "Slackness Style," the dizzying "Dub It in a Dance," the speed-toasting "Music Alone Shall Live," and the intriguing "Can't Understand It," which reminds listeners that "you can't carry water in a basket." Released at a time when dancehall was just beginning to explode onto the international stage, Dub It in a Dance is an energetic timepiece by one of the best live DJs to ever work a microphone.

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