Album review
Under Me Sleng Teng
Wayne Smith
May 18, 2004

Tracking list

  1. Under Me Sleng Teng
  2. Under Me Sleng Teng Version
  3. Icky All Over
  4. My Lord, My God
  5. E20
  6. Like A Dragon
  7. Leave Her For You
  8. Walk Like Granny
  9. Hard To Believe
  10. In Thing
  11. Love Don't Love Me
  12. Under Me Sleng Teng (Remix)
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

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

Wayne Smith - born on December 5, 1965 in Waterhouse, Kingston, Jamaica - began singing while at school and in church, where he cultivated his unique vocal technique. After achieving his educational qualifications he began an apprenticeship as an electrical engineer. His training centred around the Papine region of St. Andrew's, where many top performers began their musical careers, including Brigadier Jerry, Sister Nancy, Anthony Malvo and Chaka Demus. Smith spent his free time at King Jammy's (then Prince Jammy) sound system, hoping for an opportunity on the microphone. His persistence came to fruition and, inspired by the audience's response, Jammy recorded Smith's debut single titled "Aint No Me Without You".
However, his finest moment came early 1985 when he was directly involved in what is considered by many to be a pivotal phase in the Jamaican recording industry. Wayne Smith's "Under Me Sleng Teng" was the first fully-computerised riddim to properly blow up in Jamaica. There are a couple of conflicting stories about how the riddim - based on the riff from Eddie Cochran's "Something Else" - was first found on the computerised keyboard. It might have been the discovery of Wayne Smith and another young singer, Noel Bailey - or, alternatively, Jammy's engineer and session musician Tony Asher who found it with Smith. Whichever account is nearer the truth, the rock 'n' roll riddim on the Casio music box was slowed down and rebuilt by Asher at Jammy's St Lucia Road studio, and launched on an unsuspecting world at the historic sound clash between Jammy's Super Power sound system and the Black Scorpio set at Waltham Park Road on February 23, 1985. In the heat of the battle, Jammy delivered his production, and its impact was immediate. With the exception of Wayne Smith's dancehall vocal, every element of the monumental "Under Me Sleng Teng" was digital. The disc served as the final blow in the clash, and subsequently changed the course of reggae itself as it kicked-off digital reggae, or ragga. Versions, whether on Jammy's original riddim track or variants hurriedly built by rival producers, followed by the trailerload. Not only became "Under Me Sleng Teng" a massive hit around the world, its riddim continued to provide the basis for a number of reggae dancehall hits in the next two decades.
During his association with Jammy's, Smith also recorded dancehall favourites such as "Life Is A Moment In Space", "Ism Skism" and the ones featured on this wicked digital re-mastered re-release of the "Under Me Sleng Teng" album... "Icky All Over", "Love Don't Love Me" and "Walk Like Granny". Furthermore this cd contains two bonus tracks (the original 12" version" and the remix of "Under Me Sleng Teng "). Throughout this set Wayne Smith demonstrates his talent for songwriting and singing, fully showing that he's not a "one hit" artist. Backed by Steely & Clevie and The Super Power All-Stars he treats us to some notable and entertaining dancehall tunes. All in all a solid album worthwhile purchasing.

Teacher & Mr. T.