Trojan Box Set (Singles) - Various Artists

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Trojan Box Set (Singles) - Various Artists

1 CD(s) - Reggae - Label: Trojan - Distributor: Universal Music - Released: 06/09/1999 - 766126101297

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Review of "Trojan Box Set (Singles) - Various Artists"

published 12/08/2004 | waynehorrigan
Member since : 22/05/2004
Reviews : 143
Members who trust : 123
About me :
Pro Timeless classics; 50 tracks for £7
Cons Recording quality of older tracks
very helpful
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
How does it rate alongside the competition

"The Birth Of Reggae"

It's a 3CD, 50-track box-set collating early reggae tracks from a record label called Trojan. Set up in Britain in the mid-1960's, as a subsiduary of the Island label, it was intended as a menas of bringing the hot new sounds of Jamaica over to the ex-pats living in the UK.

With a growing Caribbean community in the UK, the label couldn't fail. It continued to function through to the mid-1980's and enjoyed a boom in the early 1970's when first the burgeoning skinhead movement and then, later, the punks, grasped the similarities between their ideals and reggae's. The Clash were probably the most high-profile punk band to use reggae''s influence in their music, most notably with the dubby Bank Robber.

In the mid-70's Trojan fell behind the times and subsequently went into administration. They were brought out of receivership by Saga who concentrated more of albums rather than singles and consequently the 7" single under the Trojan banner was phased out.

30 of the 50 tracks on this album appear on CD for the first time given their previus rarity.

This box-set is one of many themed sets currently on the market. Others include UK Singles, Dub, Instrumental, Reggae Sisters, Soulful Reggae, Reggae Brothers, Lovers, Ska and Calypso. There are many others coming onto the market. Trojan is enjoying something of an Indian summer with their reissuing of nearly every track from their vaults. I estimate there are around 30 of these themed box-sets on the market and occasionally songs from one set does overlap onto another, but with such a wealth of material available to the compilers, it does happen too much.

Forget UB40, Sean Paul, Shaggy or even Bob Marley because this is reggae in its purest form. My friend heard it in my car and remarked: "were these songs recorded in a shed?"

What you have to remember is that these joyous songs were recorded just after Jamaica's independence from Great Britain in 1962. Although the sovereignty-free status isn't an issue, the date is.

There were few recording studios or facilities in the early 1960's and those that did exist had the most basic four-track mixing desks with limited scope for any producers to work their magic. Some songs on these CDs sound murky; others a little clearer, but all have one thing in common: they were recorded in Jamaica with a naive but celebratory spirit that music these days tends to lack.

Because of the sheer volume of tracks, I'll just stick to a little one-line description of each track. normaly I go mad, giving stats and opinions, but I've already bored you guys, probably, so I'll keep 'em brief.

1. The Jivers: Our Love Will Last
Lovely, summery old ska tune. Bloody hard to dance to, though. Crucial.

2. Brother Dan Allstars: Eastern Organ
Zippy instrumental that's over before you know it. Concise.

3. Derrick Morgan: Fat Man
Wicked melody, a track bemoaning a lecherous love rival. Threatening.

4. Val Bennett: South Parkway Rock
A ska instrumental from 1967. Bit of a weak link on this CD. Average.

5. The Silverstars: Old Man Say
6. The Silverstars: Promises
Double helping from the Jamaican vocal quartet. Lovely harmonies. Beautiful.

7. Clancy Eccles: Bangarang Crash
A noted producer, Eccles takes the limelight on this breezy ska track. Nice.

8. The Dynamites: Rahtid
From 1969, a cool instrumental with shrill brass. Grating.

9. Tyrone Evans: You Done Me Wrong
Heartbreaking vocals from an underrated R&B crooner. Delicate.

11. Beverley's All Stars: Double Shot
More instrumental capers from the All Stars. A cover of the Pioneers' track. Fat.

12. The Melodians: Banana Water
Instrumental with bold brass section, murky production. Swampy.

13. Derrick Morgan: Copy Cat
The best singer on this CD back with another superb, nippy little track. Essential.

14. The Kingstonians: I'll Need You Tomorrow
What a reggae barbershop quartet would sound like. Harmonious.

15. Beverley's All Stars: Smoke Screen
Third offering from the band without a singer. Zippy.

16. The Clarendonians: Lick It Back
Love the title, bad production. Instrumental.

17. Beverley's All Stars: Busy Bee
Guess what? It's an instrumental but a very brisk one at that. Chirpy.

Disc: 2
1. Ken Boothe: Keep My Love From Fading
The man who covered Everything I Own and took it to number 1, this is similar. Classy.

2. Techniques All Stars: Eldora
An instrumental of remarkable polish. Wicked bassline. Plucky.

3. The Maytals: 54-46 That's My Number
Rebel MC nicked the bass for Street Tuff. The original and best. Sublime.

4. Hot Rod All Stars: Virgin Soldiers
Instrumental with a flute solo! Bizarre.

5. Joe White: I'm Gonna Get There
Great lovers rock moment from a sweet soul voice. Enchanting.

6. Rupie Edwards All Stars: Kinky Funky Reggae
King of pop-dub, provides a Marley Cover. Patchy.

7. Joe White: So Much Love
Beautifully executed, soulful track that will leave your heart crying. Sweet.

8. Beverley's All Stars: Be Yours
Fifth track from the instrumental kings. Workmanlike.

9. The Barons: Darling Please Return
Another heartwrencher. Great piano riff. Tingly.

10. Jackie Edwards: Take Me As I Am
A plea for unconditional love without the need for exterior aesthetics. Righteous.

11. Bruce Ruffin: One Big Happy Family
Research fails to show whether he's related to Motown's Jimmy. Lovely melodic ska tune. Rustic.

12. Jackie Edwards: Come On Girl
Jackie get amorous on this paean to sex. Saucy.

13. Joyce Bond: Help Me Make It Through The Night
A cover of the Gladys Knight track that manages to equal the original. Pleasant.

14. The Pioneers: You Don't Know Like I Know
15. The Deltones: I'll Take You There
16. The Pioneers: At The Discotheque
Three superb vocal-group tracks. Blue, Westlife et al are nothing on these guys. Original.

Disc: 3

1. Pat Rhoden: What About You
the moniker of an Irish pub singer, but really a cool vocal track. Smooth.

2. The Cimarons: Check Out Yourself
Trojan's first dip into "roots" reggae and quite good. Spiritual.

3. Marcia Griffiths: Reggae From The Ghetto
Queen of 70's reggae back with a vocal corker and killer piano. Bouncy.

4. Ken Boothe: Whole World's Down On Me
Anything Ken does is fine by me. An ode to emotional solitude. Depressing.

5. Teddy Brown: I'm Lonely No More
The opposite of the previous track. Lovely wailing vocals. Joyous.

6. Tito Simon: Time Is The Master
Deep, philosophical number with an audiblew bassline - the sound quality improves on the third disc! Resonating.

7. Derrick Harriott: Being In Love
Trojan's equivalent of Bob Marley's One Love completed with tickly steel drums. Summery.

8. Freddie McKay: Help Me
A weak link. This guy can't sing! Poor.

9. Lorna Bennett: Reverend Lee
By contrast, the greatest track on the album. Lorna should be brought out of retirement for her husky Jocelyn Brown-like voice. Gutsy.

10. Ken Boothe: Let Me Go
Not if you continue to make sweet tunes like this. Sugared.

11. Donna Hinds: Runaway Pet
A song about a lost dog. No, really. Cheesy.

12. John Holt: Keep It Like It Is
A true reggae titan. Huge in the 70's with stimulating material like this. Evocative.

13. Barry Biggs: Why Must You Cry
Another huge 70's star weighs in with a rumbling bass-heavy track. Wobbly.

14. Nicky Thomas: Come Back Girl
Famous here for Love Of The Common People. His wispy, weak voice is certainly unique. Thin.

15. Honey Boy: Strange Thoughts
Bizarre instrumentall with duelling bongos. Bonkers.

16. Eugene Paul: Pie In The Sky
Fringe player of the late 70's reggae scene. Great lilting track, shame his career never took off. Soulful.

17. Ken Boothe: Love Don't Love Nobody
Hankies at the ready for Ken's final contribution to this album. The Scott Walker of reggae, anyone? Down.

Disc 1 covers 1963-1969
Disc 2 covers 1970 -1973
Disc 3 covers 1974-1978

Needless to say the recording quality improves throughout the album.

---HOW TO GET IT FOR £7---
Go to HMV. They have their "clearout" sales a few times a year and if you go to the reggae compilations section, look for Trojan and you'll find lots of these box-sets on sale for £6.99. Their usual price is around £17.99, which I'd still happily pay for a slice of musical history, but at £6.99 during saletime, it's a steal!

Alternatively, HMV sometimes include Trojan compilations in their "3 for £20" promotions - again working out at around £7 per album.

Beautiful, chirpy, rustic music that has suffered a little, but given that some of these tunes were recorded on second rate equipment somew 40 years ago, it can be forgiven.

Some of the instrumentals may be a little dull and the brass section a bit shrill, but it's the non-instrumental tracks with their distant vocals that are a real delight here.

This particular set may be obscure for most tastes, so check out the UK Singles Box Set instead, it features:

-Desmond Dekker: Israelites
-Dave & Ansel Collins: Double Barrel
-Bob & Marcia: Young Gifted & Black

and a host of other late 60's, early 70's UK top ten hits.

Sorry to waffle on, but I tend to do that with subjects that I feel strongly about. You know you'd do the same!

Thanks for reading.


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Comments on this review

  • john_harrison published 21/09/2009
    Great review mate, track by track eh?!
  • BananaMan111 published 02/01/2005
    nice one
  • Belle published 31/08/2004
    Good review, but just to let you know that I gave you a 'helpful' cos of the listing effects with the tracks xxx
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Product Information : Trojan Box Set (Singles) - Various Artists

Manufacturer's product description

1 CD(s) - Reggae - Label: Trojan - Distributor: Universal Music - Released: 06/09/1999 - 766126101297

Product Details

EAN: 766126101297


Listed on Ciao since: 12/08/2004