Various Artists

Roots Techniques

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Winston Riley has left an indelible mark on the Jamaican music scene, initially as founder of the legendary vocal group the Techniques, and then later in the '60s as a producer. In the early reggae age he gave the world Dave & Ansel Collins' smash "Double Barrel," at the dawn of the dancehall era he unleashed Tenor Saw's "Ring the Alarm." In between times he oversaw equally sensational numbers, which are the focus of this compilation. Roots Techniques is the perfect companion set to Dancehall Techniques, in some cases boasting the earlier incarnations of Riley's riddims. His most famous, of course, was a stunning version of the Soul Syndicate instrumental "Stalag 17," utilized for "Ring the Alarm." Riley bought the original off of composer Ansel Collins and handed it to King Tubby, the resulting remixes supported a number of cuts, two of which appear here -- Big Youth's sizzling "All Nations Bow" and Horace Andy's emotive "Love Is the Light." The set helpfully sequences the pair right after each other, as well as keeping other riddims together. The Viceroys (masquerading as the Interns) deliver up a superb "Nothing Is Impossible," preceded by its dubbier, cultural counterpart "Zion I," and proceeded by Ansel Collins stirring instrumental version. Earlier in the set, Johnny Osbourne and Jimmy Riley each brilliantly tackle the same dread riddim, both are set standouts, and are followed by Riley's studio band's seething instrumental/dub version. And it's the inclusion of these magnificent instrumentals and dubs that truly showcase the glory of these fabulous riddims, as well as Tubby's spectacular remixes. Beyond the big name toasters and singers, there are a couple of lesser known, quality artists who add a bit of mystique to a star-studded set. All told, there isn't a less than stellar track within this compilation, with artists, riddims, and productions all of equal note.

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