Various Artists

High Explosion: DJ Sounds from 1970-1976

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High Explosion: DJ Sounds From 1970 to 1976 chronicles the rise and rule of the DJ style. The 50 tracks feature the best DJs and some of the best reggae producers of the time. There are seven tracks by U-Roy, six by Dennis Alcapone, five by I-Roy, and four by Big Youth. Some of the producers that show up are giants and innovators like Lee "Scratch" Perry, Keith Hudson, Bunny Lee, Duke Reid, and Phil Pratt. The music is laid-back and rootsy, while the DJs are hyper-charged, often volatile and always entertaining as they lay down wild boasts and far-out declarations. Like most compilations of this nature, the best tracks are by the most well-known artists (U-Roy's mighty "Rule the Nation," Dennis Alcapone's "Africa Stand," I-Roy's "Hot Bomb," U-Roy's "Treasure Isle Skank," and Big Youth's infectious "Soloman a Gunday"). Despite this, the more obscure artists are all high-quality DJs too. There are no real clunkers here but rather some standout tracks like Dave Barker's manic toast on "Only the Strong Survive," an early Dillinger track, "Headquarters," wittily produced by Perry, Lloyd Hughes' bubbling "High Explosion," King Sporty's jaunty "For Our Desire," and Scotty's "Clean Race." Unless you are a DJ fanatic, 50 tracks is a lot of DJ to inhale in one sitting. The harsh and strident vocals go down better in small doses. Still, this collection is a well-packaged, well-organized, and definitive look at the early years of the style and is essential for serious fans of reggae.

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