Various Artists

Ragga Jungle Anthems, Vol. 1

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The best and most interesting jungle or drum'n'bass music has always been the kind that draws deepest on the music's reggae roots; the juxtaposition of languid, smoky basslines and frenetic double-speed breakbeats has always packed a special wallop, more so than the chillier, all-digital variety. The two volumes in the Greensleeves label's two-disc Ragga Jungle Anthems series offers a case in point. Although it would have been nice to have some roots reggae artists scattered in among the rockstone deejays and loverman dancehall crooners, and although most of the tracks on this first volume run far too long (about five minutes, on average), this collection does a good job of presenting the state of the art in ragamuffin junglism. Chakademus and Pliers have never sounded more confident and powerful than they do in this jungle setting of "Gal Wine" (mixed by Ridley Don), and there are exceptionally fine remixes of Dawn Penn's classic "No No No" and Barrington Levy's "Under Mi Sensi," as well. Bounty Killer shows up on almost half the tracks, which is a few too many, but he's a good choice for this kind of restlessly energetic material. Only the pedestrian slackness of Admiral Bailey's "Jungle Punanny" really disappoints. Highly recommended overall.

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