Various King Jammy's Selector's Choice: Vols. 1 — 4

If you grew up listening to reggae in the ’80s then you have an intimate knowledge of Lloyd James’s studio, style and sound. Better known as King Jammy (or sometimes King Jammys), this onetime understudy of the foundational King Tubby is responsible for an envious back catalogue, an ’80s equivalent to Studio One. Jammy spearheaded reggae’s digital revolution and stopped producers in their tracks when he issued 1985’s "Under Mi Sleng Teng” by Wayne Smith, which single-handedly altered reggae forever. His hits dominated sound systems around the world for the next decade. Johnny Osbourne’s "Buddy Bye,” Tenor Saw’s "Pumpkin Belly,” Pinchers’ "Agony,” Lt. Stitchie’s "Wear Ya Size,” Echo Minott’s "What the Hell,” Tiger’s "Bam Bam,” Shabba Ranks’s "Love Punaany Bad,” Admiral Bailey’s "Punaany” and Ninja Man’s "Border Clash,” to name a few, show up on these four discs, all remastered. These compilations are long overdue and, in reality, they could be multiplied by 12 and you’d still find top shelf material on each one, such is Jammy’s genius. Truth be told, though, this is the era that popularised one rhythm albums and is partially responsible for the oft-quoted barb that "all reggae sounds the same.” True, several songs on each disc share a backing track in common but Jammy’s legacy is more than just turning knobs behind the mixing desk and versioning older songs. In true Jamaican fashion, he simultaneously took from the past to reinvent the future. If there’s one thing missing here it is an appreciation of Jammys’ talents as a dub master — a man that cut his teeth with analogue and bands then had the prescience to foresee the digital sea change. These four discs display the graduating class of Jammys — the many students whose voices are immortalised in reggae history. Now it’s time for a box set of Jammy-produced dubs. (VP)