16
Oct 04

Trojan Box Sets

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I have 34 of these box sets now, so I thought I’d offer some guidance to anyone thinking they look tempting (especially at the £7 prices on offer at HMV and Fopp, for instance) but unsure where to dip their toe in. Pretty much all of the ones I have are really good, honestly (Nyahbinghi is the hardest work), but here’s a quick top ten:

10. X-Rated: all the outrageously sexual old stuff – titles like ‘Play With Your Pussy’ and ‘Cock Stiff And Hard’ are clear enough indications. The music maintains the usual high standard – it’s not just novelty appeal.
9. Instrumentals: I’m a lover of vocals really, but there were loads of tremendous reggae instrumental groups, and this is a strong selection.
8. Reggae Sisters: Sweet poppy and soulful reggae. Arguably no classics, but immensely appealing throughout.
7. Roots: my favourite kind of reggae, though it’s not Trojan’s great strength, so this is personal bias really.
6. Dub: clear enough – lots of really great vintage dub reggae, with Lee Perry, King Tubby, Niney et al. (There’s a whole Lee Perry set too, but you know if you like him, so I’ve left that out.)
5. DJ: if you like toasting, U/I Roy, Scotty, Big Youth and so on, this is fantastic.
4. Jamaican Hits: what it says, chronologicalish from 1960 to ’73, from Derrick Morgan’s great ‘Fat Man’ to Dennis Brown, taking in loads of peaks along the way.
3. Producer Series: 50 tracks divided between Niney, Lee Perry, Clancy Eccles, Alvin Ranglin, Harry J and Joe Gibbs. What more could you want?
2. Originals: full of classics, including the peerless ‘Many Rivers To Cross’, plus ’007′, ‘Liquidator’, ‘Guns Of Navarone’, the Wailers, U Roy and so on. Great. More tracks here that everyone knows than on any other set.
1. Ska: This old stuff is where Trojan is at its very best, playing to its real strengths when it was THE Jamaican label, and this is a fabulous set, jammed with wonderful, life-enhancing material. (There is a volume 2, but it’s less strong.)

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