This double-CD release from Greensleeves Records presents a key collection of tracks from producer Lloyd James, aka Prince Jammy, and is a fine introduction to his distinctive production style. Recorded at King Tubby’s, Harry J’s, Channel One and Jammy’s studios, musical input includes contributions from both the Aggrovators (featuring amongst many others Sly Dunbar, Ansel Collins, Bobby Ellis and Robbie Shakespeare) and the High Times Band (notably Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith).
Prince Jammy served his apprenticeship under the guiding hand of King Tubby but, unlike the original generation of 1970s dub producers, Jammy took the changing sound (and changing digital technology) of reggae music firmly into the next decade and beyond. With his teenage experience in putting together some of the early sound systems, he later became the bridge between the analogue era of bass-driven dub and the emergence of computer-driven dancehall. The first CD contains some excellent sounds along the way, notably What a Great Day by Lacksley Castell, a standout song of spiritual freedom atop a powerful bass line, moving from the vocal track into a formidable version that dubs along happily for more than nine minutes. Conscious Speaks by Black Crucial has a strong Aggrovators’ rhythm at its core, while the dub production in the mix of Junior Delgado’s Love Tickles Like Magic is characteristic of Jammy and his particular production style. Jah Gave Us This World from The Travellers goes straight into its version – Natty Dread at the Controls – by U Black which gives Jammy the chance to dub it up in good style.
The second CD begins like the first with the familiar sound of Johnny Osbourne. The evolution of the music towards a different kind of feel is evident in tracks such as Junior Reid’s Higgler Move and Frankie Paul’s Foreign Mind. The digital instrumentation and dancehall style take over on Junior Reid’s familar Boom Shack a Lack and the stage is set for how reggae would now develop. Half Pint’s Mr Landlord manages to combine both old and new in one sound. The album as a whole concludes with no less a figure that Dennis Brown and They Fight I, a good strong reggae tune in the classic tradition.
The tracks on this release represent the changes in reggae music from the mid 70s to the mid 80s. From a track like Augustus Pablo’s Pablo in Moonlight City with its well-established mainstream melodica sound, to the contributions by Half Pint and Junior Reid which were very much the shape of things to come, this album summarises Prince Jammy’s contribution to the continuing evolution of reggae.