Print this Page

World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

BIG YOUTH

By Pilar Alvarez
Published September 8, 2005

Natty Universal Dread: 1973 -1979
Blood and Fire

Although U-Roy and I-Roy paved the way for every other Jamaican DJ, by the mid-’70s Big Youth was arguably the best of the bunch: a smooth cultural toaster with a quick wit and a quicker tongue. This exhaustive three-CD box set from England’s top-shelf reggae reissue label Blood and Fire collects his best work all in one place. The set charts his rise from the Tippertone sound system’s boss DJ, making tracks for Joe Gibbs and other producers, to an independent artist producing his own material and making hit after hit after hit. There are so many classics it’s almost overwhelming: “Hot Stock,” “Streets In Africa,” “Reggae Phenomenon”—the list is almost as long as the set’s 51-song track listing! For many fans, Disc two’s trilogy of “Riverton City,” “Love And Happiness” and “Weeping In The Night,” all built on the venerable “Westbound Train” riddim—itself originally based around the opening licks of Al Green’s classic “Love And Happiness”— will be worth the price of the boxed set by themselves!