Front Line Presents Reggae Discomixes (1977-1981)
UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)
August 8, 2015

Track list
Disc 1
  1. Mighty Diamonds - Have Mercy / Merciful Dub
  2. The Gladiators - Evil Doers
  3. Dr. Alimantado - Find The One (12" Mix)
  4. U Brown - River John Mountain
  5. Sly Dunbar - Cocaine Cocaine (Remaster 1991)
  6. Poet & The Roots - Man Free (For Darcus Howe) (2000 Digital Remaster)
  7. Joyella Blade - Cairo / Cairo Dub
  8. Culture - Poor Jah People (2000 Digital Remaster)
  9. I-Roy - Fire In A Wire
  10. Twinkle Brothers - Never Get Burn (12" Mix)
  11. Prince Far I feat. Congo Ashanti Roy - 83 Struggle
  12. Gregory Isaacs - Permanent Lover (12" Mix)
Disc 2
  1. Delroy Washington - You Know I Want To Be (2001 Digital Remaster)
  2. Poet And The Roots - Five Nights Of Bleeding / Defence Dub
  3. I-Roy - Peace In The City (2000 Digital Remaster)
  4. Sly Dunbar - Dope Addict (Remaster 1991)
  5. Big Youth - Isaiah, First Prophet Of Old (2001 Digital Remaster)
  6. U-Roy - Love In The Arena (2000 Digital Remaster)
  7. The Gladiators - Exodus
  8. Twinkle Brothers - (This Man) King Pharoah (12" Mix)
  9. Culture - Innocent Blood (2000 Digital Remaster)
  10. Gregory Isaacs - Uncle Joe / Come Off Mi Toe
  11. Mighty Diamonds - One Brother Short (Extended)
  12. Congo Ashanti Roy - Weeping & Wailing (12" Mix)
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
In 1974 Richard Branson's Virgin Records ventured into reggae music with the release of BB Seaton's "Dancing Shoes" album, issued on their Caroline Records subsidiary. Then the next set of reggae releases, from some of the foremost Jamaican producers such as Bunny 'Striker' Lee, Tony Robinson, Jo Jo Hoo Kim and Keith Hudson, and artists like Mighty Diamonds, U Roy, The Gladiators and Peter Tosh, came on the Virgin label. In 1978, Branson decided to form a subsidiary label dedicated wholly to reggae, and called this Front Line. The label signed artists like Prince Far I, Big Youth, Prince Hammer, Tappa Zukie, Sly Dunbar, and The Twinkle Brothers, while many of the artists who had previously released records on Virgin also moved to the new label.

The infamous American disco mixer Tom Moulton introduced the 12" single in New York in the '70s. As from 1976, the 12" single trend reached Jamaica, where hundreds of reggae 12" singles were pressed and commercially issued as "discomix". Actually the Hoo Kim brothers, whose Channel One Studio on Maxfield Avenue was the acknowledged home of all what was happening in reggae music, where the first to release 12" discomixes in Jamaica. A rockers style cover of Marcia Griffith's "Truly" by The Jays wasn't faded out as the vocal finished, but instead Ranking Trevor stepped in with a deejay version. On the flipside The Jays' version of the Viceroys' "Ya Ho" was segued by a blistering dub version. Especially in reggae's leading overseas markets New York and London the 12" single rapidly rose to ubiquity. Many US and UK discomixes showcased different mixes to the Jamaican releases or, increasingly, records that had not been released in Jamaica.

Virgin and its Front Line label followed the trend and released a series of 12" records, commencing with I Roy's "Fire Stick", and ranging through understated Jamaican roots classics such as The Gladiators' "Evil Doers", Culture's "Innocent Blood" and the Twinkle Brothers' "(This Man) King Pharaoh", to UK-produced recordings that included Delroy Washington's "You Know I Want To Be" and the early stirrings of dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, who as Poet & The Roots recorded the powerful "Five Nights Of Bleeding". When Virgin had folded Front Line in the early '80s, Charisma Records was one of the record labels that stepped in and filled the breach with a series of fine reggae releases on their short-lived Pre subsidiary, which included heavyweight roots tunes by Prince Far I and Congo Ashanti Roy, as well as a number of records by Gregory Isaacs, fresh from his spell with Front Line. However, within three years after its first release, Charisma Records had joined the Virgin fold, and Pre went the way of Front Line.

After the release of "Front Line Presents Roots (1975-1979)" and "Front Line Presents Dub (1975-1980)", the dbl cd "Front Line Presents Reggae Discomixes (1977-1981)" is the third compilation of this tasty budget-priced series. The compiler of "Front Line Presents Roots (1975-1979)" included a few great 12" discomixes (Twinkle Brothers' "Keep On Trying", "Free Africa" and "Jahoviah"), and here the listener is once again treated to two worthwhile Twinkle Brothers 12"ers, the excellent "Never Get Burn" and the equally strong "(This Man) King Pharoah". And there's more great music from the golden age of reggae to be found on this mighty fine collection, including a notable amount new-to-cd selections. Of course, it's a joy to listen to extended versions of classic tunes by leading groups of the time, Mighty Diamonds, The Gladiators, Culture and the aforementioned Twinkle Brothers, but also the singers and deejays deliver classy contributions. No real weak tracks around, although a couple can't be ranked among the very best (think Sly Dunbar's "Cocaine Cocaine" and Joyella Blade's "Cairo"). However, this doesn't matter when tracks such as Dr Alimentado's mesmerizing "Find The One", Culture's "Poor Jah People", Prince Far I feat. Congo Ashanti Roy's "83 Struggle", I Roy's thriller "Fire In A Wire", Delroy Washington's superb "You Know I Want To Be", Congo Ashanti Roy's roots killer "Weeping & Wailing" and Gregory Isaacs' "Permanent Lover" and "Uncle Joe" are part of this collection.

Even if you have collected most of the 12" singles featured on this collection, it's still a worthwhile addition to your reggae collection. Truly value for money!!