Various Artists

Trojan Box Set: Jamaican R&B

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Of all the excellent Trojan three-CD box sets in their current limited edition series, the Jamaican R&B set fills the greatest need in linking its various histories. Here are 50 cuts compiled by Laurence Cane-Honeysett form the vaults of Trojan's massive holdings, including some things never before issued -- some forty-odd years after their recordings -- and a similarly varied treasure trove appearing on CD for the first time ever. The cuts track from the great Duke Reid's early version of a sound system, to Clement "Coxsone" Dodd and Prince Buster's sound systems of the late '50s, invented due to the advent of instrumental and vocal groups cutting sides to make up for the lack of suitable R&B recordings coming from America at the time. While pop stars had claimed the singles market, and cats like Joe Turner, Fats Domino, Amos Milburn, and Rosco Gordon -- just to name a few -- were on the wane, doo wop was still underground for the most part, and Motown hadn't yet arrived. Here, the earliest sides by Reid, Laurel Aitken, Rico Rodriguez, Owen Gray, Derrick Morgan, The Blues Busters, and two dozen more, reveal a sizzling, if naïve take, on R&B from the island perspective. Many of the sound system purveyors hired the same musicians, and so cats like Ernest Ranglin and Roland Alphonso are heard here in the same way Nash Vegas studio cats are, backing many different singers, or cutting instrumental sides under different names to be played by one "producer" (in those days a glorified DJ) or another exclusively on his sound system. The music here cooks, shimmies, shakes, croons, burns, and wiggles. Reggae collectors will need this one, but so will those who are deeply moved by great soul and R&B. This is an essential collection.

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