Various Artists

Tighten Up, Vol. 3-4

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Obviously onto a good thing, the Trojan label continued the Tighten Up series of budget compilations rounding up recent hits continued, with Vol. 3-4 arriving in 1970 and 1971, respectively. The Maytals "Monkey Man" kicked off the former set, which once again is notable for its eclectic nature. There's another trio of instrumentals, with "Shocks of Mighty"

boasting the exuberant DJ skills of Dave Barker, while veteran toaster King Stitt indulges the "Herbsman." Jimmy Cliff was "Suffering," but not for long, by the time this album hit the streets he'd already hit the big time. Ken Boothe was still a few years away from that, but his "Freedom Street" was a popular number, and in Jamaica the riddim would be versioned for years to come. Jamaican born but British based Dandy Livingston would also eventually crack the U.K. charts, and here delivers a sublime cover of "Raining in My Heart." Former Gaylad Delano Stewart's offering is just as sweet and emotive. With the dawn of a new decade, culture began taking hold in Jamaica, a phenomenon reflected across a clutch of Vol. 4's cuts. Niney Holness' apocalyptic "Blood and Fire," the Ethiopians' plea for repatriation "The Selah," the Pioneers' harmonic cry of "Starvation" and Merlene Webber's toasting "Hard Life" all spoke of serious matters, as did the Slickers' sublime rude boy warning "Johnny Too Bad."

But among these heavy hitters were an equal number of lighter songs. Hopeton Lewis, for one, was "Grooving out on Life," Jean & the Gaytones found comfort in music, adamantly declaring "I Shall Sing" while Webber found the solution for her difficulties, advising all women to "Stand by Your Man." The Ethiopians also return for a second helping with the love-laced "Good Ambition." Reissuing these two excellent compilation albums together on one CD emphasizes the stylistic shift underway, one from which roots would emerge.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 03:31 Amazon
2 02:44 Amazon
3 02:59 Amazon
03:19 Amazon
02:51 Amazon
6 02:30 Amazon
7 03:00 Amazon
8 02:57 Amazon
9 02:38 Amazon
10 02:22 Amazon
11 02:20 Amazon
12 02:20 Amazon
13 03:06 Amazon
14 03:11 Amazon
15 03:06 Amazon
16 02:47 Amazon
17 03:26 Amazon
18 03:36 Amazon
19 02:50 Amazon
20 02:42 Amazon
21 03:25 Amazon
02:48 Amazon
23 02:41 Amazon
24 03:17 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick