24 Nov 2022


Two essential albums from the golden age of Jamaican DJ music from the mighty producers team of Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson.

'Over 30 tracks new to CD. Two albums on CD for the first time. Includes many of the biggest DJ hits of the late 70s. By the close of the 70s, the DJ sound that had revolutionised the Jamaican music industry at the start of the decade was firmly established as one of the dominant sub-genres of reggae music. Few producers championed the style more vigorously than Joe Gibbs, who along with Errol Thompson, regularly provided a platform for the cream of the island's toasters. In 1977, some of their finest DJ productions were gathered on the album, 'Top Ranking DJ Session Volume 1', the popularity of which spurred a second volume two years later. Now, at long last, both collections feature on CD for the first time, with their track listings stripped of a few much earlier tracks and bolstered by the very best of the Mighty Two's DJ output from the late 70s.'

Two CDs explore the late '70s art of toasting.

'Top Ranking was a two LP series released in Jamaica by producer Joe Gibbs’ Record Globe label at the turn of the 1970s, titled (of course) for his recent worldwide hit with Althea & Donna’s “Up Town Top Ranking.”

Ten songs long, volume one was a showcase for half a dozen DJs, I-Roy, U-Roy, Big Youth, Lizzie, Shorty the President and Trinity, whose own “Top Ranking” toast opens the set; volume two, two years later in 1981, then ushered in a clutch of newer names, as the DJ phenomenon exploded across the island - Clint Eastwood, Nicodemus, Lui Lepki, Lee Vaan Cleef and Weedy Dread joining old hands Dillinger, Jah Thomas and U Brown, plus the returning Trinity and I Roy.

Both albums were crucial listening at the time, and original copies sell today for $25-$30 per volume. Or you can pick up both on a nifty CD twofer, with the original albums bolstered by some 26 bonus tracks, all from elsewhere within the Joe Gibbs/Errol Thompson stable, and all serving up an almost faultless window on what still feels like a remarkable era.

Toasting itself was nothing new - indeed, a decade had elapsed since the initial rise of the two Roys, Big Youth, Dillinger and co. Absorbed then into the roots movement of the mid-late 1970s, the trade of DJ was in danger of becoming just another part of the musical furniture. Only for it to turn around at the end of the decade with the sudden emergence of a host of new talents, and new techniques too.

That is the story told here, how toasting moved into the 1980s and ignited entire new sensations in its own right. And if the reliance on one production team’s material does give a somewhat stilted view of the overall picture, it also reinforces just how pioneering that studio was, even this late in the day - Gibbs himself had been active on the Jamaican scene since the mid-1960s, and numbered the young Lee Perry among his past employees.

The accompanying booklet tells those stories, but it’s the music that brings home their import. Prince Mohammed’s “Forty Leg Dread” and “Bubbling Love,” Jah Grundy’s “Shaolin Disciples,” Prince Hammer’s “Orthodox Rock,” Mr Bojangles’ “Prophesy Reveal” - some of the most memorable floor-fillers of the day are included here, alongside a host of favorites; and with 30-plus being new to CD, there’s a lot to get your teeth into, too.' -Dave Thompson

Various – Top Ranking DJ Session Volumes 1 & 2

Label: Doctor Bird – DBCDD110
Format: 2 x CD, Compilation
Country: UK
Released: 2022
Genre: Reggae
Style: Dancehall, Roots Reggae

Top Ranking D.J. Session Volume 1
1. Top Ranking - Trinity 3:40
2. Trust No Shadow After Dark - I Roy 4:11
3. Commercial Business - Trinity 3:08
4. Equal Rights Style - Big Youth 2:19
5. Natty Pass His G.C.E. - Shorty the President 3:30
6. Big Fast Car - Big Youth 2:45
Bonus Tracks
7. Badder Than You - Clint Eastwood 3:24
8. Jah Joy - Mr. Bojangles 3:44
9. Too Much Gal Out a Street - Shorty the President 3:31
10. Ask Me No Question - Ranking Joe 3:48
11. Dread Locks Thing - Prince Hammer 3:01
12. Production Plan - Clint Eastwood 3:26
13. Prophesy Reveal - Mr. Bojangles 3:41
14. Bellevue Patient - Dillinger 2:42
15. Dread Locks Party - Ranking Joe 3:26
16. The Selassie I Cup - Mr. Bojangles 3:09
17. Informer - Prince Mohammed 3:16
18. Natty on Top - Prince Hammer 2:55
19. Jamaican Dollar - Trinity 3:15
20. Producer's Trophy - Mr. Bojangles 3:43
21. Ten Years Late - Prince Mohammed 2:58
22. Different Style - Kojak & Liza 3:16
Top Ranking D.J. Session Volume 2
23. Come Fi Si Yu Daughter - Jah Thomas 3:13
24. Gau'wn a School - U Brown 3:04
25. 3 One Fi the Money - Clint Eastwood 3:12
26. Kublicon - Dillinger 3:32
27. My Wife - Lui Lepke 3:18
28. Beverley How You Love Me - Lee Van Cleef 3:38
29. Girls of Today - Weedy Dread 3:03
30. Bad Card - Trinity 3:05
31. Set Me Free - I Roy 3:09
Bonus Tracks
32. Forty Leg Dread - Prince Mohammed 3:23
33. Out the Light - Dillinger 3:17
34. Starsky and Hutch - Trinity 3:26
35. Orthodox Rock - Prince Hammer 3:19
36. Friend and Money - Mikey Dread 3:40
37. Bubbling Love - Prince Mohammed 4:18
38. War Is Over - Dillinger 3:55
39. Naw Go a Them Burial - Prince Allah 3:07
40. I Pray Thee - I Roy 3:08
41. Hog and Goat - Trinity 3:26
42. Shaolin Disciples - Jah Grundy 2:55
43. Racing Pool - Dillinger 2:34
44. Christmas Style - Kojak & Liza 3:10