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Barrington Levy - Sweet Reggae Music (1979-1984)

Barrington Levy - Sweet Reggae Music (1979-1984)

Barrington Levy - Sweet Reggae Music (1979-1984)

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Barrington Levy double disc anthology.


Credit due to the VP Music Group for persisting with their ‘Reggae Anthology’ series, the latest of which packages 40 cracking tracks recorded by the allegedly ‘undisputed lord of the dancehall’ (otherwise known as ‘the mellow canary’ of reggae) Barrington Levy, over the 1979-84 period. The collection captures Levy at his peak, in collaboration with the Roots Radics, Junjo Lawes and Scientist under the tutelage of luminaries like Linval Thompson, Jah Screw, George Phang and Channel One.

Barrington Levy - Reggae AnthologyBeyond the ‘bang for your buck’ merit of this release, it also offers the rarely accessed ‘Whom Shall I Be Afraid Of’, ‘Praise His Name’, ‘Pon Your Toe’ and ‘Tomorrow Is Another Day’ tracks. These are accompanied by the full 12” mixes of ‘The Winner’ and ‘Tribute To Moa Anbessa’ (with Jah Thomas), alongside the previously unreleased bouncy ‘Black Hen Chicken’ and ‘The Letter Song’ – all voiced in Jamaican native Levy’s well received direct delivery stylee. Amongst an array of classy contributions, the stand-out tracks may well be the delightfully lively ‘Collie Weed’, ‘Here I Come’ (a 1984 album classic recorded at Kingston’s Channel One Studios, released via Greensleeves) and ‘Under Me Sensi’, yet another of Levy’s mid 1980s hit tunes.

Overcoming strong parental opposition, Levy took the musical career route and was aptly rewarded in 1979 with ‘Ah Yah We Deh’ and a series of subsequent hits. This pattern persisted when his liaison with the Roots Radics yielded the much lauded debut album ‘Bounty Hunter’. Under Junjo Lawes’ guidance Levy racked up a host of hits (e.g. ‘21 Girls Salute’, ‘Prison Oval Rock’ and ‘Hammer’ – all of which feature on this release) before some developmental experimentation (predominantly in England) propelled him to ‘Best Male Vocalist’ status at the UK Reggae Awards in 1984. In this jurisdiction he accelerated in a crossover direction with Jah Screw, enabling the release of smash hits ‘Here I Come’, ‘The Mellow Canary’ and the aforementioned ‘Under Mi Sensi’.

Levy remains a big ‘live’ draw worldwide, continues to experiment musically - with hip hop and jungle added to his repertoire - and to collaborate with an array of prominent artists. With over 30 albums to his name he can legitimately claim to have ‘paid his dues’. Of course as with many ‘living legends’ most of these dues were paid in his younger highly creative days – days that are quite comprehensively captured in this vital release. However, if nothing else, what this release does is whet the appetite for him to break a 17 year album recording gap. If and when that gap is filled, if the product is half as good as this compilation, it will be a scorcher.

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