Various Artists

Trojan Box Set: DJ

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The Trojan label box sets are one of the best introductions into specific Jamaican genres on the market. The budget-priced boxes stuff in over 50 songs across three CDs, and although they are parsimonious with the liner notes and infuriatingly unhelpful with the credits, there isn't much of better value to be had. The Trojan D.J. box set is yet a further example of the plusses and minuses of this series. The discs are positively packed with hits from all of the era's greatest stars. U-Roy flashes his whip, Big Youth is indeed killer and a screaming target for his competitors to try to beat, Dennis Alcapone is crowned the King of Kings and remains the perennial DJ's choice, while I-Roy proves that "Blackman Time" is the best time of the day. All four of these superstars are well served within, each spotlighted by a handful of their top toasts. A little further down the ladder were DJs like Scotty, Shorty, Charlie Ace, and Lizzy, all popular in their day, but whose accomplishments have faded with time. The first two each receive several cuts, and their "Yamaha Skank" and "I Worry," respectively, are both top-notch, as is Lizzy's "Love Is a Treasure." Dave Barker is as renowned for his singing as his DJing, and his toasting was as exuberant as his singing was sweet. His "I Got to Get Away" is an absolute masterpiece. There are also welcome inclusions from such early groundbreakers as King Stitt and Sir Lord Comic, as well as a number from now long-forgotten DJs like Blake Boy and Prince Heron. What's missing is any sense of chronology, any mention of the producers, and any identification of the rhythms being rapped over. For novices, this can lead to endless weeks of playing Name That Tune, and even veterans will find the lack of information disturbing. Buy it for the music, then get going on your own research.

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