Part of the Trojan label's 40th Anniversary celebration, Jonny Greenwood Is the Controller finds the Radiohead guitarist picking his favorite tracks from the reggae label's massive vaults. In the liner notes, Greenwood mentions he was in a "panic at not feeling qualified" when asked, and that his knowledge of Jamaican music was still growing as the project was nearing completion. He hopes to display this deeper knowledge on a future comp, which would be splendid since this supposed "Volume One" is filled with excellent selections, proving the controller is well above amateur, has a natural affinity for the many flavors of reggae music, and shouldn't panic at all. There's no modern dancehall -- and that's mostly because it's hardly in Trojan's catalog -- but roots, dub, and lovers rock all make an appearance in choices that aren't beaten to death or overly esoteric. Lee "Scratch" Perry's classic and strange "Bionic Rats" rubs shoulders with Marcia Griffiths' soulful and entirely approachable "Gypsy Man," and everything else falls in-between with an obvious U.K. influence. For instance, the riddim found on Marcia Aitken's "I'm Still in Love" was later used on the big British hit "Uptown Top Ranking" from Althea & Donna while the excellent dub "Right Road to Dubland" from the U.K. crew the Jahlights could have fallen off the fifth or sixth side of the Clash's Sandinista!. A couple of gloriously extended 12" mixes and solid liner notes seal the deal, but it should be noted that this isn't a mix -- tracks fade out or stop cold -- and anyone expecting a spliffed-out journey might be disappointed by the more traditional choices this experimental popster has made. Radiodread -- the Easy Star All-Stars' take on Radiohead's OK Computer -- is the druggy mix of dub and Greenwood's day job, designed to take the listener far, far away, while this is more about offering the newcomer a solid foundation and easy entry point. It's still an intoxicating selection, making it equally rewarding to the reggae veteran.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries