Various artists album review
Original Stalag 17-18 And 19

Tracking list

  1. Tenor Saw - Ring The Alarm
  2. Admiral Tibett - Trouble To A Man
  3. Little Kirk - What's Love Gotta Do
  4. Little John - Look What You've Done
  5. Lloyd Hemmings - Ragamuffin Soldier
  6. Sugar Minott - Jah Jah Rule
  7. Yami Bolo - When A Man's In Love
  8. Michael Prophet - Room Full
  9. Brigadier - What Kind Of Love
  10. Techniques All Stars - Stalag 17
  11. Ian Sweetness - Ebony Eyes
  12. Doctor Nuts - Crazy Glue
  13. Nardo Ranks - Skin Out
  14. Super Beagle - Just A Sound Boy
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

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

The phrase "Never let go of a hot riddim" - slightly based on Slim Smith's Studio One hit "Never Let Go", the one that provided one of the most popular revived riddims ever - reflects the spirit of the late seventies/early eighties. Looking back at that period in Jamaica's musical history - actually the beginning of the dancehall phase of reggae - one of the most striking things was the fact that the riddims had become all-important, with virtually all the producers rushing to cut their own versions of the most popular ones. One of the producers who remained abreast of new trends was veteran producer and former "Techniques" member Winston Riley. In 1985 his overdubbed cut of Ansel Collins' 1973 instrumental "Stalag 17" - utilized for the late Tenor Saw's dancehall anthem "Ring The Alarm" - made a serious impact in the dancehalls and led to the release of "Original Stalag 17-18 And 19", the most popular one-riddim album ever. Now Virgin (France) comes up with the CD release of this killer album (including 4 bonus tracks !).

Tenor Saw's smash Ring The Alarm - one of the true highlights - is the opener and, although by now well known by many reggae fans, still as strong and exciting as it was then. Winston Riley was among the first producers to record Admiral Tibett, one of the few conscious singers in those days. His Trouble To A Man is a decent effort. Little Kirk alongside Little John and Yami Bolo represent the teenage singers on this album. These youngsters deliver nice cuts - with Yami Bolo's When A Man's In Love being the best - and although they were very young of age at the time of these recordings they fully showcase the skill and talents that finally helped them to establish their name in reggae music. Lloyd Hemmings' link to the aforementioned young singers is the fact that he was aged only 12 when he made his first recording. Some ten years later he voiced the fresh-sounding Raggamuffin Soldier for Winston Riley.
Reggae veteran Sugar Minott needs no further introduction as he is one of reggae's most successful artists, well known and loved by a broad reggae audience. He delivers a solid cut in his own inimitable style. Another premier division name included is Michael Prophet, whose Room Full unmistakably confirms his status. Brigadier Jerry's contribution definitely belongs to one of the best recordings this deejay has delivered during his career and is another highlight on this compilation set as is the next track, Ansel Collins' original instrumental.
Ebony Eyes was recorded in 1990 and is the first of the four bonus tracks. Ian Sweetness' soul cover is a nice but rather mediocre effort. Comedian and deejay Doctor Nuts aka Professor Nuts comes up with a far better cut. The unique and - at that time - new deejay style of Nardo Ranks comes to full expression on his 1990 recorded Skin Out. Super Beagle, who adapted lyrics of Willie Williams' anthem "Armagideon Time", performs a true dancehall killer with Just A Sound Boy. A wicked introduction by the famous "intro man", the late Fuzzy Jones, precedes the singer and his song.
"Stalag" has proven its classic status by refusing to disappear and there are likely to be more new cuts in the future. Furthermore we can only hope that a record company (Virgin ?) will reissue the second set of Winston Riley's "Stalag" versions - entitled "Stalag 20" - too. However, for the moment being: "Come, listen to this sound - a champion !"

Teacher & Mr. T.