Big Youth Natty Universal Dread 1973-79

Natty Universal Dread is a long overdue retrospective of deejay Big Youth's career. Blood and Fire honcho Steve Barrow pulled out all the stops for this triple CD set for an artist who truly deserves it. As usual, Barrow's expertly written liner notes tell the story of arguably the greatest deejay of them all. Big Youth followed on the path blazed by U Roy and added an uncompromising Rasta message mixed with great poetry, humour and some choice Last Poets quotations. He also sang with, uh... gusto, and produced his own rhythms, unlike any deejay at the time. There are examples galore of Youth's originality. "Children Children" (from whence dancehall legend Tenor Saw got his name) features Youth rapping playfully from the perspective of a child. His cut of Burning Spear's "Marcus Garvey" features some of the most apocalyptic imagery ever put to record. The unquestioned highlight is the holy trinity of Youth, Gregory Isaacs and Leroy Sibbles crooning the classic "Love Me Forever," followed by four different versions of the same deconstructed riddim. Multiple versions of certain rhythms may drag on and at times, Youth seems like he's running out of ideas on the mic, but these are minor faults and spread over three CDs. This is far and away the best collection of Big Youth's music and a cornerstone for a good reggae collection. One of Blood and Fire's best reissues. (Blood and Fire)