Various Artists

When the Dances Were Changing: Hitbound Selection

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The Hoo Kim brothers opened their Channel One Recording Studio in 1972, soon establishing it as one of the most important on the island. The Hoo Kim's sound was resoundingly militant, with their house band, the Revolutionaries, who evolved from the Aggrovators, the studio's earliest house band, laying down some of the most radical riddims of the age. The Hoo Kim's own productions invariably tore up the dance floors. As the '70s came to a close, the styles both in the sound system and at Channel One began shifting. The Revolutionaries departed, and the Roots Radics entered the fray. When the Dances Were Changing: Hitbound Selection looks exclusively at this period when the Radics reigned supreme and before ragga took hold in 1985. The compilation's title comes courtesy of a young Barrington Levy, cut over the Radics indeed radical version of Hopeton Lewis' "Take It Easy." Levy reappears later in the set with the equally sizzling "Black Rose." Of equal interest is Frankie Paul's ominous "Worries in the Dance," far removed from his recut for Junjo Lawes, "War in the Dance." And worries were indeed permeating the sound systems, "Too Much Backbiting" Sugar Minott laments, while Don Carlos bemoans the propensity for "Fight Fight." That latter is no relation to Horace Andy's song of the same title, which is instead themed around standing up for what's right, a stance the Gladiators further proclaim on "Can't Stop Righteousness." Michael Palmer and Patrick Andy both offer stellar ganja numbers, Barry Brown a potent reminder that Rastas still had a grip on the scene, Ringo gives a shout out to the "Working Class," while even Welton Irie's hilarious "Army Life" tosses in the occasional conscious lyric. As this selection makes clear, culture was far from forgotten at Channel One in this age, nor was the militant sound that had first launched the studio to legend. That latter infuses all of the instrumental sections of the 12" versions and the dub versions that append many of the vocal tracks. Phenomenal riddims, fabulous singers, and top-notch singjay and DJs, Channel One had it all, and even as new producers rose to the fore, the Hoo Kims hit back with even more hits.

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