Straight Outta Trenchtown 1975-1980
Maka Sound
September 13, 2002

Track list
  1. What's Yours
  2. Sentry
  3. Population (Extended Version)
  4. Hail Dread (Extended Version)
  5. Fools & Their Money
  6. Let Us All (Extended Version)
  7. Those Who Pretend
  8. Judgement
  9. Dreadlocks Time
  10. Camouflage
  11. Give I & I Some Work (Extended Version)
  12. What's Yours (12" mix feat. Tappa Zukie) (Hidden Bonustrack)
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 5
Knowledge's "Straight Outta Trenchtown 1975-1980" contains a wicked selection of titles from the vocal group's first two albums, "Hail Dread" and "Judgement", which are almost impossible to find nowadays.

For Knowledge it all began on Trenchtown's First Street, where reggae's major figures such as Bob Marley, Alton Ellis, Delroy Wilson, Joe Higgs and Leroy Sibbles grew up. In 1974 Michael "Mikey Beard Knowledge" Smith and Anthony "Turn Knowledge" Doyley decided to form a group and soon they were joined by Earl "Rockman" McFarlane, Michael "I Lux" Samuels and Delroy "Bronco" Fawlan. It was legendary producer and toaster Tappa Zukie who met the vocal group when he was involved in setting up a community centre in Trenchtown. He saw them rehearsing in Michael Smith's house and took them to Lee Perry's renown Black Ark studio, where they recorded "Make Faith (In What You Do)" and "What's Yours".

Tappa Zukie then produced Knowledge's first album "Hail Dread", which was originally released in 1978 by the international A&M label and only in the United States. Tappa Zukie sensibly re-released the album in Jamaica in 1990 on his own label as "Word, Sound & Power". The album "Judgement" from 1980 followed and in the mid-eighties, Knowledge recorded a third album called "Strive For The Highest", released in 1987 by Tuff Gong in a limited edition of 500 copies. However, this album didn't feature all the original members of the group since Earl "Rockman" McFarlane and Michael "I Lux" Samuels had died respectively in 1981 and 1987, both of them shot by gunmen in Trenchtown.

"Straight Outta Trenchtown 1975-1980" - released by French label "Maka Sound" - is a welcome addition to any self-respecting reggae enthusiast's collection. This set contains above avarage roots material from way back including some real gems like for example "What's Yours", "Hail Dread", "Let Us All", the haunting "Give I & I Some Work" and the truly awesome "Sentry". The latter can be regarded as Knowledge's most convincing pronouncement in the dread mode of the time. Great and timeless roots music featured on a cd which is both interesting and entertaining due to the vocal and lyrical delivery of Knowledge as well as Tappa Zukie's typical heavyweight, always rootsy approach. All of the tracks on this compilation were recorded between 1975 and 1980 in Channel One, Black Ark, Harry J's and King Tubby's studio and produced by Tappa Zukie. Musicians involved include Aston 'Familyman' Barrett, Sly & Robbie, Carlton 'Santa' Davis, George 'Fully' Fulwood, Earl 'Chinna' Smith, Tony Chin, Ansel Collins, Gladstone 'Gladdy' Anderson, Tommy Mccook, Dean Fraser and more.

The CD comes with a beautifully designed full-colour 32 page booklet with many photos, extensive linernotes in French and English and the lyrics to all the songs.