CD The Front Line [Virgin] (CD 1312515),
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The Front Line [Virgin]

  • 1. Dreadlocks the Time Is Now - The Gladiators
    2. Mix Up - The Gladiators
    3. Know Yourself Mankind - The Gladiators
    4. Too Long in Slavery - Culture
    5. Work on Natty - Culture
    6. Natty Never Get Weary - Culture
    7. Black Liberation Struggle - Gregory Isaacs
    8. Universal Tribulation - Gregory Isaacs
    9. Poor and Clean - Gregory Isaacs
    10. Let My Days Be Long - The Abyssinians
    11. Wicked Men - The Abyssinians
    12. Right Time - The Mighty Diamonds
    13. Body Guard - The Mighty Diamonds
    14. Africa - The Mighty Diamonds
    15. Roots Natty Roots Natty Congo
    16. Crazy Baldhead
    17. Prophecy a Fulfilled
    18. Never Get Burn - Twinkle Brothers
    19. Free Africa - Twinkle Brothers
    20. Since I Threw the Comb Away - Twinkle Brothers
    21. Zion - Delroy Washington
    22. Observance - Delroy Washington
    23. Stop the Fussing and Fighting - Culture
    24. Cumbolo - Culture
    25. International Herb - Culture
    26. Native Woman - Gregory Isaacs
    27. Let's Dance - Gregory Isaacs
    28. Mr. Brown - Gregory Isaacs
    29. Those Guys - The Sensations
    30. Jah Loves - The Abyssinians
    31. This Land Is For Everyone - The Abyssinians
    32. Hearsay - The Gladiators
    33. Pocket Money - The Gladiators
    34. Greatest Love - The Gladiators
    35. Tide Is High - The Paragons
    36. Declaration of Rights
    37. I Am Still Waiting
    38. I Don't Want to Be Lonely Anymore - Twinkle Brothers
    39. I Love You So - Twinkle Brothers
    40. Shame and Pride - The Mighty Diamonds
    41. I Need a Roof - The Mighty Diamonds
    42. Civilisation - Keith Hudson
    43. Uptown Top Ranking - Althea & Donna
    44. Chalice in the Palace - U-Roy
    45. Wear You to the Ball - U-Roy
    46. Natty Rebel - U-Roy
    47. Tribute to Marcus Garvey - I-Roy
    48. Jordan River - I-Roy
    49. Radical Music - I-Roy
    50. Bible - Prince Hammer
    51. MPLA - Tapper Zukie
    52. Oh Lord - Tapper Zukie
    53. Dangerous Woman - Tapper Zukie
    54. Marcus Garvey - Big Youth
    55. Lightning Flash - Big Youth
    56. Isaiah First Prophet of Old - Big Youth
    57. Humble One, The - Jah Lloyd
    58. Message From the King - Prince Far I
    59. Commandment of Drugs - Prince Far I
    60. Weather Balloon - U-Brown
    61. Natty Dread up on a Mountain Top - U-Brown
    62. Masculine Gender - Ranking Trevor
    63. Rub a Dub Style - Ranking Trevor
    64. Five Nights of Bleeding - Poet & the Roots
    65. Suru Lere Dub - Prince Far I
    66. Borno Dub - Prince Far I
    67. Bendel Dub - Prince Far I
    68. Roof Top Dub - Well Charged
    69. Merciful Dub - Well Charged
    70. Cell Block 11 - Well Charged
    71. Blacka Black Dub - Well Charged
    72. Command Counsel Dub - Poet & the Roots
    73. African Tak - I-Roy
    74. Rasta Fiesta - Sly Dunbar
    75. Sesame Street - Sly Dunbar
    76. Dirty Harry - Sly Dunbar
    77. Big Youth Special - Big Youth
    78. Black Man Message - Big Youth
    79. Academy Award Version
    80. Herb Dub - Jah Lloyd
    81. Stone Dub - Jah Lloyd
    82. Knife and Fork - Jah Lloyd
    83. Distant Drums Dub - Twinkle Brothers
    84. Hip Dub - Vivian Weathers
    85. Diamonds and Pearls Dub - The Mighty Diamonds
    86. Bodyguard Dub - The Mighty Diamonds
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): FLBOX1

  • Credits

    It's understandable that the author of the hagiography passing for sleeve notes prefers to remain anonymous, and his revisionist history of the Virgin label, its subsidiary Front Line, and the U.K. reggae scene is nothing if not breathtaking in it's audacity. Apparently, it all began with the Clash, with the Police then taking up their banner, without a single mention of England's West Indian community disseminating Jamaican music in the first place. So, a bit of truth in advertising. Prog rock Virgin was wilting by the mid-'70s, and head honcho Richard Branson was desperately searching to revive his company's fading fortunes. Bob Marley's breakthrough offered an obvious solution, and the label began signing up some of Jamaica's hottest talent. With the arrival of the Sex Pistols in 1977, the pace quickened. Legend has it that Branson and Johnny Rotten arrived in Kingston with cash in hand, money for the taking for artists willing to sign on the dotted line. The punk hero's taste was impeccable, and by the time the pair were finished, and Front Line formerly launched in 1978, the company sported a roster that seriously rivaled even Island's. This four-CD box set showcases much of the formidable talent at Front Line's disposal, and the track listing reads like an encyclopedia of roots' greatest acts -- sublime vocal groups, phenomenal solo artists, and top-ranking toasters. The resulting records were mostly masterful, and, in many cases, masterpieces. The problem was the label had no idea how to market the material, and even as the records tore up the underground, none had the least impact on the mainstream. By the dawn of the new decade, Branson wrote Front Line off as a bad investment, and moved on to the greener pastures of new romanticism. Much of this superb music would now disappear for years. Two discs are given over to the singers, across 43 mostly well-chosen tracks, that will leave you searching out the original albums from which they were culled. Besides the big names -- Abyssinians, Culture, Gregory Isaacs, et al -- it's more neglected artists like Delroy Washington, the severely underrated Johnny Clarke, and the early seminal lineup of the Twinkle Brothers that really impress, if only for their unfamiliarity. Disc three rounds up the DJs, with the big three -- U Roy, Big Youth and I Roy -- well represented, alongside the popular Prince Far I, Tapper Zukie, and Jah Lloyd. U Brown and Prince Hammer, both of whom disappeared from view in the early '80s, are welcome inclusions, as are the early offerings from Ranking Trevor. The liner notes include pocket bios of all the artists included, but sadly give little information about the multitude of sensational dub versions that are bundled onto disc four. As a label showcase, this would be hard-pressed to be bettered, and one is left to wonder just how inept Front Line were to fail with such high-quality music. ~ Jo-Ann Greene

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