Various Artists

Junjo Presents a Live Session With Aces International

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Or in this case Junjo presents three live sessions, all recorded between 1982 and 1983. The majority of the album (seven tracks) dates from an October 13, 1982, Aces sound system party. A single track, featuring Toyan, was recorded in February 27, 1983, at the Peoples' Choice sound system, with the final two recorded that same night with Lees Unlimited. Judging by the credits (there are no sleeve notes), it seems likely that these last three are bonus tracks actually culled from other live session albums. In any event, there's no better entrance into Jamaica's early dancehall scene. The fat rhythms blare out, the DJ takes the mic, and the excitement begins. The sound is excellent, the crowd exuberant, and the toasters at their top form. As many of the same rhythms are used, this is a particularly good test of the DJ's skills, allowing the listener to decide for himself whose style and rap they prefer. Modern fans will inevitably be intrigued by Beenie Man's appearance, although in 1983, manhood was still a long way off. The DJ had entered the sound systems the previous year, and here he toasts like the vet he already is, a true marvel, even at age nine. Before 1983 is out, the child wonder will have released his debut album and notched up his first hit single. In truth, though, the album's highlights are divided between Eek-A-Mouse and Yellowman, who each get two cracks at the mic here. However, everyone shines: the dulcet toned Little John, the seriously underrated Toyan (who mashes up the streets on his two tracks), the smoothly verbose Buro Banton, and the clever, rhyming Ringo. Fathead also makes an appearance, accompanied by his usual partner in crime, Yellowman. Produced by Henry "Junjo" Lawes, with all the dubby, deep roots fans expect from him, Live International is as close as one can get to experiencing the sound systems of the '80s. Bring your friends and turn up the stereo.

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