Barrington Levy is one of those people whose importance in reggae can’t be over exaggerated. Together with producer Henry “Junjo” Lawes, mixing engineer Scientist and the brutally hard skanking Roots Radics he was part of creating dancehall in the late 70’s. And he was only in his late teens. Scientist was a little older and Henry Lawes was in his early twenties. Impressive to say the least.
It was during the early dancehall era that the young Barrington Levy had his heydays. His juvenile, energetic and enthusiastic singing style was extremely popular and suited the dancehall format very well, and he managed to release hit song after hit song after hit song, including Collie Weed, Looking My Love, Shine Eye Gal, Hammer, 21 Girls Salute and Prison Oval Rock. His biggest hits to date are however the ganja anthem Under Mi Sensi and Here I Come – with its infectious skiddly-waddily-iddily-diddly- diddly-whoa-oa-oh.
All these and 32 more tracks of the same high caliber produced by the likes of Joe Gibbs, Donovan Germain, George Phang, Linval Thompson, Jah Screw and the aforementioned Henry Lawes are collected on the two disc Barrington Levy anthology Sweet Reggae Music 1979-84. Even though this is a single artist anthology, it’s also a great way to discover the early days of dancehall and the Roots Radics militant and disciplined way of revitalizing vintage riddims giving them a rock solid edge.
Barrington Levy has had a long career and still records sporadically, even though he has announced his final album. His best period is by no competition his early years, a time when his output was massive. But this magnificent compilation manages to collect almost only certified scorchers, even though the audio quality could have been better on some tracks.