The Mighty Two: Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson

Joe Gibbs / Errol Thompson

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The Mighty Two: Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson Review

by Jo-Ann Greene

Producer Joe Gibbs was a prolific and well-respected member of Jamaica's music industry, owner of the seminal Amalgamated and Pressure Beat labels, which released a slew of hits in the 1960s. Engineer Errol Thompson began his career at Studio One, before moving to Randy's, the studio owned by the Chin family. When the two men teamed up in 1975, they proceeded to stamp their sound all over the roots era, with a deluge of productions released across a stream of the pair's labels. Heartbeat label head Chris Wilson admits in the excellent sleeve notes that this compilation "can hardly do justice to their prodigious output." He's right; however, it can work as a stellar introduction to the Mighty Two. At 17 tracks strong, and nicely balanced between hits and rarities, superstars and lesser-known names, heaviest roots and lighter reggae, deep dub and DJs, the set valiantly attempts to cover all the bases, to much success. The Mighty Two had a versatile, organic quality that was rhythm-driven but song-oriented. The pair never exhibited the propensity for experimentation for the sake of it that drove Lee Perry and Niney Holness into legend; instead, the duo endeavored to showcase the song and artist in the best possible light, and succeeded with style. From conjuring up the heftiest roots for "Heavy Manners," the song that launched Prince Far I to fame, to the delicate rhythm of Peter Tosh's "Maga Dog," deliberately created to take full advantage of the John Crow skank craze, to the sumptuous arrangement of the Mighty Diamonds' "Ghetto Living," and on to the pastoral visions of the country created for Leo Graham, each song is a small jewel in the Two's crown. Equal attention was lavished on the efforts of lesser names; as much care was taken with Dennis Walks' song as Black Uhuru's. And while the pair may never have stunned listeners with their creative genius, a Mighty Two production carried an unwritten guarantee of quality sound and style. This compilation is a welcome reminder of the duo's importance to the Jamaican scene both then and as a continuing influence to this day.

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