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The Story Of Trojan Records

The Story Of Trojan Records

The Story Of Trojan Records

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123 track, 5CD box set covering the hits, artists, producers, labels and unreleased gems, rarities & oddities.

Trojan is a name that personified reggae in the UK during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and since its heyday back then and the advent of CD’s it has had its name somewhat sullied as various companies have held the rights to its immense catalogue and flooded the market with lots of brash and fairly tawdry releases. Over the last twelve months or so present owners Universal Music have gone along way in putting the some gloss and pride back in to this one of the most important reggae labels ever with their limited edition 7” vinyl series, of obscure and previously unreleased material, re-issued classic albums on CD in their original guise and brought out an improved ‘Trojan Presents’ 2CD albums series. Now, on August 29th, they about to release a 123 track, 5CD box set ‘The Story Of Trojan Records’.

Trojan Box SetA lot of you may be thinking why do I need another ‘Story Of’, after all as already mentioned this labels back catalogue has seen many extensive releases and ‘Story Ofs’ before. Well where this one differs is that it has been lovingly complied by Laurence Cane-Honeysett, the Jamaican music specialist and author of 2003s ‘Young, Gifted and Black: The Story of Trojan Records’, who has included along with a selection of the big hits many tracks that are making it on to CD for the first time, some that have been unavailable since their original release in Jamaica and 20 that are completely unreleased and unheard until now plus there is the addition of a 50 page book, with a foreword by Rhoda Dakar, the former singer with The Bodysnatchers and The Special AKA. It is also reported that the book is embellished with lots of original photography and other facets of memorabilia. Plus you get 4 original reproduction double-sided postcards recreating flyers and original promotional material, a Trojan Window Sticker and, if you register your box set with the newly invigorated Trojan Appreciation Society online, you can get your hands on an exclusive 12 track bonus digital album. I would like to tell you more about these goodies but like you I’m afraid I’ll have to wait until its release to find out more. I can however tell you a bit about the CDs which I presume is why most people would want this set in the first place anyway!

The 5 discs are broken down into categories with the first disc being titled “25 Big Ones - UK Hits”. The tracks here run chronologically from The Upsetters Return Of Django, a #5 hit in October ’69 through to penultimate track Ken Boothe’s Crying Over You that reached #11in December ’74. Nearly all of the songs in between went high in the UK Top 40 with many going top 10 plus both Dave and Ansell Collins and Ken Boothe making it all the way to the summit with Double Barrel in March ’71 and with Everything I Own in September ’74 respectively. There are however two exceptions here that didn’t make the Top 40 but are still iconic none the less. Tony Tribe gives us the best and one of my personal favourites of all time, version of Neil Diamond’s Red, Red Wine, that reached #46 in ’69 while Symarip’s rousing, Derrick Morgan inspired Skinhead Moonstomp from 1970 brings the disc to a close and as far as I believe this song failed to chart at all on original release.

The second disc “Reggae Greats - The Artists” shows that back then just about anybody who was anybody in reggae had a song released through Trojan. There is the ever popular Bob Marley & The Wailers with Stir It Up, the sweet vocals of the Prince of Reggae himself Dennis Brown on Meet Me At The Corner and the DJ styles of Big Youth on Natty No Jester and URoy for Black Heart.

“The Big Shots – The Producers” is the title of disc 3 and highlights the strength of production talent on Trojan’s illustrious roster from legendary names like Harry Johnson, Joe Gibbs, Lee 'Scratch' Perry and Leslie Kong among others. Disc 4 is the “A To Z Of Trojan - The Labels”. Trojan had many numerous subsidiary and imprint labels from Action to Lee Perry’s Upsetter with which the company had a distribution deal for the UK. There was also Pressure Beat which dealt with many Joe Gibbs productions, Moodisc for the works of Harry Moodie, the ultra rare Peoples Reggae Series that as far as is known only had one release plus the more widely known Big Shot, Attack, Horse, Songbird and many more.

Finally disc 5 is “Unreleased Gems, Rarities & Oddities”. Some of the tracks here ride on popular Trojan hits like Ansel Collins organ driven instrumental Double Or Nothing and Dandy’s Double Barrel Man, no prizes for guessing what they are versions on. Then there is the not so obvious Mama by Nora Dean on the Liquidator riddim. There are a couple of funky reggae numbers I Can Win by Bob Andy and a guitar plucking instrumental cover of I Shot The Sheriff from The Gladstone Band. There is some nice early reggae from Earl Lawrence on a Another Day Is Dawning, the sweet falsetto sounds from an early Flick Wilson track Black African Woman and what could maybe be best described as the basis for lovers rock as Marcia Griffiths puts her dulcet tones to My Love.

I dare say there are a few of you who will look through the track list of this album and ask why is that song not included or why have they picked that, but when you have a vast array of classic songs and hidden gems to choose from you could easily produce another three or four ‘Story Of’s’ and still not please everybody. I feel the tone is right and as a lot of Trojan songs are already out there then the inclusion of these rarities and unreleased tracks make this a worth while investment and if the book is half as good as the song choice then this Trojan Story should be sitting proudly in any reggae fans collection.

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