Label retrospectives are not without a degree of risk: it's easy for compilers to fall into the self-indulgent trap of looking after your pet projects, with the line by extension between vanity exercise and faithful cataloguing dangerously a thin one.
The guys at Wall of Sound will probably feel that they're worth it. Twenty years after their first and fondly remembered compilation 'Give 'Em Enough Dope', they're back to celebrate their 21st in business with a two disk, thirty-odd song opus, the idea to map the imprint's evolution from big beat boutique to its later, more cosmopolitan artist roster.
They've got the sense to start with two stone cold killers as well; it's been donkey's years since we heard the Propellerheads' 'Take California' or Royksopp's 'Poor Leno', but we're happy to report that both are still headphone gold. There are also selections from the respective acts at their peak, which is less than can be said, however, for some of the other choices strewn across the first disk. The problem here isn't a lack of the quality in the contributors - we've got stuff from the likes of Zoot Woman, The Bees and Les Rythmes Digitales - but they've all produced better material than that featured here, a point best illustrated via The Bees on the jazzy, underwhelming scat of 'A Minha Menina'.
The Jolly Boys have an incredibly long and endurable history as musicians, having spent the past 60 years performing, they are one of the original sounds of Jamaican 'mento'. Undoubtedly The Jolly Boys are the most recognizable mento band in the world. Mento is certainly a unique and colourful sound that was the forerunner to reggae and ska but even though it may sound older and more accessible it still has that edge that always comes from good Jamaican music. The Jolly Boys have been royally accepted throughout their career but recently Geejam Jon Baker and Wall Of Sound's Mark Jones have collaborated with these masters to create 'Great Expectation'.
Continue reading: The Jolly Boys, Great Expectation Album Review
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