Album review
Reggae Anthology ~ Ninja Man - Anything Test Dead
Ninja Man
VP Records-Walboomers Music
06 - 10 - 2001

Tracking list

Disc 1
  1. Intro: Live At Sting
  2. Protection featuring Courtney Melody
  3. Cover Me featuring Tinga Stewart
  4. Nice Up The Lawn
  5. More Reality
  6. Peeping Tom
  7. Laugh & Grin (Mad Ninja)
  8. Border Clash
  9. Wrenking Meat
  10. Pedal An Wheel
  11. Take Time To Know Her featuring Tinga Stewart
  12. Don
  13. Donnette
  14. Murder Dem
Disc 2
  1. Mr. Weapon
  2. Dirt Heart featuring Cocoa Tea
  3. Excuse Me
  4. Mandella Come
  5. More Than You Bargain For featuring Linval Thompson
  6. Legalize the Herb
  7. Counteraction
  8. Test The High Power
  9. Things A Gwan
  10. Set Me Free featuring Gregory Isaacs
  11. Cowboy Town featuring Gregory Isaacs
  12. Time Is Serious featuring Admiral Tibett & Shabba Ranks
  13. Permit To Bury
  14. Bible Fulfilment
  15. Zig It Up (Man Attraction Remix) featuring Flourgon
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : 4 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 5

The two-CD set "Anything Test Dead - Ninja Manís Greatest Hits" is another fine historical document in VP Records' "Reggae Anthology" series, actually a-wide ranging series of comprehensive compilations exploring the last three decades of recorded Jamaican music. Besides the music of an artist captured at his peak one is treated to a four-color, 16-page booklet with unique, historical photographs, rare original artwork, informative liner-notes by a noted reggae writer, and a comprehensive track listing.
This set truly tells the success story of a certified dancehall legend. Ninja Man, a genuine rude boy/gangster and undoubtedly the greatest free-style artist Reggae has produced. The one who started to call himself "Original Gun Tooth, Front Tooth, Gun Pon Tooth, Don Gorgon" at the height of his popularity managed to construct a series of international hit records while maintaining his status as the Jamaican peopleís favorite. As so many of his predecessors and contemporaries, Ninja Man (real name Desmond Ballentine) built a reputation with his appearances on a sound system, in his case the legendary Killamanjaro. Actually the founder of the sound, Noel Harper, enabled Ninja Man to record his first tune in 1986, the catchy combination song with Courtney Melody entitled "Protection". It was the first-ever release on the "Killamanjaro" label and became a hit on the local circuit. From then Ninja Man started to record a series of chart topping "combination style" tunes, but also his outings without a singing partner proved successful in Jamaica and abroad. Ninja Man established his reputation further and especially from 1990 and 1992 the deejay released a whole heap of notable tunes, not only because he was then offered the producers' best and toughest riddims, but also because he was at the peak of his verbal inventiveness.
With the exception of Ninja's debut single "Protection" and "Cover Me" - in 1988 an international dancehall hit - this compilation set only features material which was recorded in the period 1989-1992 for the producers King Jammy, Whitfield "Whitty" Henry, Steely & Cleevie, Mr. Doo, Phillip "Fatis" Burrell and Bobby "Digital" Dixon. Included are great burial tunes like "Laugh & Grin", "Murder Dem", "Excuse Me", "Test The High Power" and "Permit To Bury". Furthermore one is treated to awesome combination tunes like for example the killer "Dirt Heart" with Cocoa Tea, Linval Thompson's update of his late 70's repatriation anthem "More Than You Bargain For", and also "Set Me Free" and "Cowboy Town", both with Gregory Isaacs. Other notable tracks are "Nice Up The Lawn" across King Jammy's "Far East" riddim, "Pedal An' Wheel", the excellent "(Heartical) Don" on Steely & Clevie's ".357 Magnum" riddim, "My Weapon" and the combination with Admiral Tibett & Shabba Ranks called "Time Is Serious".
"Anything Test Dead - Ninja Manís Greatest Hits" brings together the Don Gorgon's best work and thus is well worth checking out!

Teacher & Mr. T.