Bass Culture Vol. 4: Mash You Down ~ Dancehall 1973-83
September 4, 2012
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
The Past, the Present and the Future. The Trinity for the continuation of Jamaican music. The island's music has changed so much thru the decades! Recently, there have been a slew of compilations showcasing the original Dancehall era that still remains a fabric in the riddim. A superior one is "Bass Culture Vol. 4: Mash You Down ~ Dancehall 1973-83". This is the fourth chapter of a great series chroniciling the progression of Jamaican music. This gem concentrates on the birth of Dancehall and its evolution; from 1978-85 in spectacular style and fashion.
This double disc explosion features tracks well known and rare from the ranking producers of that era. "Junjo" Lawes, the Hoo-Kim brothers, Sly & Robbie, Linval Thompson and many others' productions are all here. There are riddims galore, some original, but many versioned to perfection from earlier eras. This was a time when the dances and approaches were changing...
Disc One blasts off with Black Uhuru's "Shine Eye Gal" (Sly & Robbie '79); a classic that shows the subtle changes in technology that Sly has always championed as well as the influx of Keith Richard's "different" git licks. Cornell Campbell's brilliant "Mash You Down" (Bunny Lee '79) exemplifies the use of vintage riddims (College Rock) and new ways to make it sound fresh. The late Rankin' Trevor's "Rub A Dub Style" (Hookim '78) is a sign of things to come -- rub a dub style!! The rare "Name Of The Game" (Jammy '78) by The Fantails is laid on Baba Brooks' 1964 Shank I Sheck riddim and it sounds as fresh as ever here! An example of Roots morphing into early Dancehall is Junior Murvin's "Cool Off Son" (Gibbs '79); a timeless lesson to the youth cut on Sound Dimension's Real Rock riddim -- classic tune. The oft overlooked "Ababa John I" (Bunny Lee '79) by Don Carlos is one of the final bridges of Roots/Dancehall subgenre -- a song for the ages!
Another rarity, Noel Phillips' "Youthman" (Jammys '81) was a rush release as then "Prince" Jammy was making a big name for his productions but this bubbler fits in nicely here. Gregory Isaacs' anthem "Soon Forward" is another clue into how newer technology worked in the right hands; produced by Sly & Robbie in '79. One of Eek-A-Mouse's first hits, "Bubble Up Yuh Hip" (Thompson' 80), was more at home on Kingston dancefloors but that didn't last long -- gone international. Wayne Smith's masterpiece, "Time Is A Moment In Space" (Jammys' 82) is a multilayered time capsule that is stark with a Hugh Mundellesque approach. The Roots Radics played an integral part in the evolution of Dancehall and this is shown hard on Lee Van Cleef's "Gone Water Gone" (Thompson '81), John Holt's "Fat She Fat" (Lawes '82) and Lone Ranger's stream of conciousness "Rub 'n' Scrub" (Lone Ranger '82). The riddims get more progressive and more wicked with each track. The immortal Viceroys' "Can't Stop Us Now" (Thompson '79) backed by the Revolutionaries/Radics is THE last remnant of Roots/Dancehall vein of the era -- vital selection!!
The late Nicodemus tore it up on "Boneman Connection" (Lawes '81), versioned from 1967's Mad Mad riddim; this DJ transformed it into a dancefloor breaker. Dancehall was in full swing. Anthony Johnson's "Gunshot" (Jah Thomas '81) shows the sound gettting more refined, more definitive, more of a reason for the world to realize that Jah music didn't die like Mr. Marley. Around this time, big label executives wrote off the music with the passing of the Tuff Gong; how wrong they were. The DJ duo -- featured on the front cover -- Clint Eastwood & General Saint's "Banana Export" (Lawes '81) was relevant to Jamaican issues and not trying to please the world. The talented Wayne Wade's "Poor And Humble" (Thompson '82) is a Radics backed track jagged and sparse in nature but smoothed out by Wayne's humbling falsetto. The disc closes nicely with the dub of Freddie McGregor's "Rootsman Skanking" (Thompson '82); a testament that the Radics sound could be smooth like butter and sharp as a razor.
Disc Two is a musical discussion on the advancement of Dancehall from 1982-85, to dizzying effect! Yellowman's "Mr.Chin" (Lawes '82) depicts yard life over a lilting riddim that is rock solid to this day. Sugar Minott hones his Dancehall business with "Move Up" (Thompson '83) with a lyrical approach that would follow him 'til his untimely passing onto Zion. Ringo's "I Can't Stand It" (Lawes '82) is outstanding and an example of the new breed of talent laying it down; so many legends came out of this era! Charlie Chaplin's "Bubblin' Telephone" (Lawes '83) utilises Jackie Mittoo "Full Up" riddim and makes new; paying homage to the chalwa inna fun stylee. The outstanding "Bang Belly" (Lawes '82) chatted by Sister Nancy takes the Minstrels riddim and makes it a blazin' hot fya -- this song demands replay. Barrington Levy's "Jah Black" is ethereal; produced by Black Roots in '84 this is culture Dancehall with that signature singjay style that many artists would embrace -- massive tune.
Things really progress with the title track off Michael Palmer's classic "Pull It Up Now" (George Phang '85); the approach urgent and spiced up lickshot -- murderin' track! Sly & Robbie introduced the world to Ini Kamoze like a cannon and "World A Music" (Taxi '84) is a classic example of their mastery of incoming engineering advancements. Sly Dunbar once said that he wouldn't lay down sounds that he couldn't do live -- this is true. Tenor Saw's "Ring The Alarm" (Techniques '85) is on most Dancehall comps but it's placement here is fitting as another sound was about to die! This timeless track uses the Stalag riddim to full effectiveness; this song is remixed and fixed to this day. The closing track, Nitty Gritty's "Run Down The World" (Jammys'85) is a brilliant song by all angles. It is also a sign of things to come for quite a few years -- digital...
"Bass Culture Vol. 4: Mash You Down ~ Dancehall 1973-83" is THE definitive storybook of Dancehall's growth in Jamaica. What makes this collection standout from the rest is the continuity; it's so fluid. There is not a track out of place and with only 40 tracks to tell a huge story, the selections are all vital. No fillers here! The entire "Bass Culture" series is a solid affair, but this volume really hits home. Do not miss out on this piece of Jamaican history!