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Reggae Anthology - Randy's 50th Anniversary

Reggae Anthology - Randy's 50th Anniversary

Reggae Anthology - Randy's 50th Anniversary

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A joyous reminder of why these songs have stood the test of time.

Sampler

Along with a brace of interviews, dj sets and a short film, the 50th birthday of Vincent and Clive Chin’s Randy’s imprint has brought this celebratory double cd of its seminal work. It charts the progress from Vincent’s fledgling productions in US and local pre ska styles through to Clive’s awesome recordings on the cusp of the roots era and is a well ordered, joyous reminder of why these songs have stood the test of time.

First we hear Lord Creator’s calypso milestone, Independent Jamaica, and Alton Ellis and Eddie Perkins approximation of the close harmony Blues balladry Chin senior loved so much. Rico Rodriguez then eases us into the shuffle boogie that begat the ska, exemplified by Creator’s Don’t Stay Out Late, before the true beat comes into play with Basil Gabbindon’s heartfelt Goodbye Pretty Darling.

Although the Chins' story is inextricably linked to that of the Skatalites, their instrumentals featured here, while solidly enjoyable, don’t quite hit the heights of their output for fellow Chinese Jamaican, Justin Yap. As a backing group, on the other hand, it’s another matter altogether, with Alton’s incredible Mouth A Massy, John Holt and Alton’s Rum Bumpers and The Maytal’s John and James taking the compilation up a gear.

The urge to dance takes hold with Creator’s autobiographical Such Is Life (which was re-imagined in haunting style 30 years later by UK singer Judith on the flip side to Knatty P’s Homeless 7”). Up next are two fast-paced pop-reggae nuggets from two Wailers: Marley’s delightful rendering of The Archies’ Sugar Sugar and Tosh’s sweet music and strong medicine lyric combination You Can’t Fool Me Again. But it is when Clive and Errol Thompson get together behind the desk that most cherished chapter of the Randy’s tale unfolds. There’s Augustus Pablo’s early dub Java, Dennis Brown’s hilariously sombre telling of the day he lost his trousers, Cheater, and four damn near definitive cover versions (John Holt’s take on the Isleys For The Love Of You; Alton’s cut of the Cornelious Brothers’ Too Late To Turn Back Now; Donovan Careless’ angelic rendition of Devaughn Williams’ Be Thankful; and Hortense Ellis’ muscular refashioning of Marlena Shaw’s Woman Of The Ghetto) - proof that Randy’s still had an ear tuned to the stateside music that inspired its name.

The roots age sees the refining of the brittle jagged guitars and rounded booming bass that typified the 17 North Parade sound. Most extraordinary of the cuts here is Senya’s Children Of The Ghetto, a contender for the best deep roots track ever made. VP have caught some flack for their mastering of archive hits in the past but here everything is crisp and fat without being overcooked.

While the bulk of this material has been reissued before - and there are plenty more songs that could have been chosen – it’s the carefully paced sequencing of the tracks that wins out. This set is a wonderful memento of what made this label so great.

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