King Jammy's: Selector's Choice, Vol. 2 [Bonus CD]

by: King Jammy

This is the second volume in the VP label's massive four-volume, eight-disc retrospective series covering the early career of Lloyd "King Jammy" James, one of reggae music's most influential living producers. To review Jammy's output during the 1980s is to take a college-level course in the transition from roots to dancehall reggae; you can see the gradual rise of computers and other electronic instruments and the simultaneous decline in rhythms built on live musicians -- though such legendary studio bands as the Roots Radics and the High Times Band are represented on these tracks along with Jammy's more electronically inflected protégés Steely & Clevie and Mafia & Fluxy. But what continues to impress is the amazing variety of A-list singers and toasters Jammy was always able to attract: on this second volume, you get a healthy dose of Cocoa Tea (who appears on no fewer than five tracks), as well as several tracks each by King Jammy favorites Johnny Osbourne, Pinchers, and Admiral Bailey. The young Ninjaman makes an appearance here, delivering his whimsically titled "Nice Up the Lawn" over the electronic one-drop groove of the "Far East" rhythm, followed quickly by Sanchez with his smooth version of Air Supply's "Here I Am" on the same rhythm. Unfortunately, the Air Supply song has a few more chord changes to it than "Far East" does, which means that Sanchez isn't always singing in harmony with the accompanying track -- a perennial problem in dancehall reggae and one to which Jammy was by no means immune. Even with the occasional clunker, though, this set should be considered an essential part of any comprehensive reggae collection. ~ Rick Anderson

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