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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

REGGAE ANTHOLOGY: THE CHANNEL ONE STORY

By Tom Pryor
Published September 8, 2005

VP VPCD

In the ’70s, few studios did more to shape the sound and vision of reggae than the Hoo Kim brothers’ legendary Channel One. While Bob Marley was taking his patented “one-drop” sound abroad, there was a revolution brewing on Maxfield Avenue, where Channel One’s house band, the Sly and Robbie-fronted Revolutionaries, were perfecting the hard-driving, militant sound they called Rockers. Their reign lasted from 1974 to 1977 and ranges across both discs of this two-CD set. Such classics as Junior Byles’ “Fade Away” and the Revolutionaries’ instrumental “Death In The Arena.” still pack a mighty punch. But Channel One had a second act up its sleeve, renovating its studios and hiring another legendary house band, the Roots Radics, just in time for the dancehall ascendancy of the ’80s. This second golden age lasted from 1979 to 1984 and is represented here by such tracks as Yellowman’s “Herbman Smuggling” and Sugar Minott’s “Babylon.” But the real treasures here are such forgotten gems as John Holt’s “Up Park Camp” and Super Chick’s “Roach Killer,” which make this long overdue anthology a must-have.