Various Reggae Anthology: Channel One

While the majority of historical reggae comps from the UK and U.S. focus on rarities and multiple versions of rhythms, VP's compilations have focused on big hits. This is a necessary "yin” to other compilations’ "yang,” and presents the very best non-crossover oriented pop sensibility that existed in Jamaica during the ’70s and ’80s. Channel One's dominance as a studio lasted from 1975 to ’85, and was responsible for the birth of the rockers sound, as well as playing a central role in the rise of dancehall prior to its digital conversion in the mid-’80s. The studio's chief innovation in the mid-’70s was to create more room for drums in the mix. Not just any drums, either — their principal drummer was Sly Dunbar. He helped develop the studio's drum sound, and was allowed to stretch out with his double-time experiments, creating even more unorthodox reggae rhythms. Another stylistic edge was the use of dub effects not just as a novelty but as an essential part of the main version of a mix: witness the Meditations "Woman is Like A Shadow," with reverbed bass and ricocheting drums, designed to make dancehalls shudder. In the ’80s, master engineer Scientist created even more oblique production strategies with the Roots Radics' spare sound, and the rhythms and singers — check the sublime Frankie Paul's junglist inspiration "Worries in the Dance" — started to sound more like contemporary dancehall. This is an excellent selection of all the elements that made this studio great. (VP)