Achieving his first success on wax with "S 90 Skank" for producer Keith Hudson in 1972, Big Youth recorded Screaming Target, his debut full-length, one year later for Gussie Clarke. That album, along with a handful of 45s from the period, was largely responsible for bringing the DJ art form forward after U-Roy's innovations. Here, in place of hip, jive-derived phrases, listeners find Big Youth ruminating on themes that exemplified the new consciousness of the 1970s. The set-opening title track, for instance, finds the DJ promoting literacy and general positivity, Youth-style, over K.C. White's "No No No." Similarly, he chants down slavery and calls for equal pay for equal work on "Honesty." Elsewhere, "Tippertong Rock" is a misspelled reference to the sound system that the DJ got his start on, Lord Tippertone Hi-Fi. Many of roots reggae's most innovative releases emerged from the studios of young producers intent on rivaling established businessmen like Coxsone Dodd, Duke Reid, and Prince Buster, and Screaming Target is no exception. Clarke was but 18 when he began producing and 20 when he oversaw the sessions for this album. The rhythm selection is superb throughout, including Leroy Smart's "Pride and Ambition," Gregory Isaacs' "One One Coco Fill Basket," and Lloyd Parks' "Slaving," and Big Youth's toasts are a pure joy to listen to. Unfortunately, Trojan decided to separate the mix for the 1989 issue, sending Youth's toasts to the left channel and the rhythm track to the right, resulting in a rather unbalanced listening experience, depending upon your proximity to the speakers. That aside, the music on this release is simultaneously a benchmark for reggae in general and the DJ form in particular -- and a classic of recorded music, regardless of the genre.
AllMusic Review by Nathan Bush