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Big Youth

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    Big Youth

    Natty Universal Dread( 2000 )
    Chucky No Lucky / Waterhouse Rock / Hot Cross Bun / River Jordan / Children Children / Mr Buddy / Hot Stock / Downtown Kingston Pollution / Hell Is For Heroes / African Daughter / Things In The Light / Sky Juice / Not Long Ago / Is Dread In A Babylon / I Pray Thee Continually / Streets In Africa / Give Praises / Mama Look / Reggae Phenomenon / Battle Of The Giants (Part 1) / Battle Of The Giants (Part 2) / Plead I Cause / Hip Ki Do / Riverton City / Love And Happiness / Weeping In The Night / Every Nigger Is A Star / My Time / Natty Universal Dread / Jim Screechy / Mosiah Garvey (Extended) / Wolf In Sheep Clothing (Version 1) / Wolf In Sheep Clothing (Version 2) / Keep Your Dread / I Light And I Salvation / Hit The Road Jack / Keep On Trying / Jah Man Of Syreen / Dread High Ranking / Hotter Fire / Miss Lou Ring A Ding / Same Something / Dread Is The Best / Ten Against One / River Boat / Sugar Sugar / The Wise Sheep / Jah Jah Love Them (Extended) / The Upful One / Can't Take Wah Happen On A West / Politcal Confusion

    For me to go walking down the street singing 'Every Nigger Is A Star' would be an unusual and possibly brave thing to do. Still, what a tune! Yes, it's a 3cd box set of Big Youth material spanning the years 1973-1979. Lots of reggae, dub reggae and lots of spiritual lyrics. The man has belief in what he is singing about. I'll start at the beginning with 'Chucky No Lucky'. An infectious rhythm, lots of echo and a wonderful vocal performance. 'Waterhouse Rock' continues in a dub style. The melody is so happy! This is why I like this kind of music! You know how much Iíve suffered from depression? I was hospitalized for depression. Horrible, unspeakable experience. The bass lines alone on this one song can cure me! I'm serious too! 'Hot Cross Bun' repeats the rhythm of 'Waterhouse Rock' but plays around with it, of course. I should say, I don't 'understand' the lyrics from a semantic point of view. I react to this from purely a musical point of view and for the sound and emotion in the vocals. If I can pick out lyrical parts that mean something to me, that's a bonus. That's just me :)

    'Hot Stock' is so wonderful! Interweaving vocals, harmonies, wonderful singing. A happy melody, a happy song that makes you feel alive. It's not rock music of course. This is outside of 'rock and pop'. If sometimes radio and television makes it seem as though there is nothing else in this musical world, they are doing us all a great disservice. A wonderful song :) I will smile a lot during this review. I'm listening to 'Hot Stock' right now. I don't know what to say! That's no good! 'Things In The Light' has SUCH a good vocal! I can't believe it! The songs continue. Onto the second CD we have an early highlight with the musical 'Mama Look' which marries wonderful music to important, meaningful lyrics. Itís some combination. Wonderful rhythm. Melody and rhythm! That's everything in music! Ok, itís not everything, obviously, but itís at least half the battle won already, for me. Personally. 'Love And Happiness' is a more straightforward reggae moment on CD2. Itís wonderful as ever. 'Every Nigger Is A Star' is SUCH a good melody! Its so very happy sounding. The lyrics mention feeling 'sunny and blue'. The use of that word is used here in terms of celebration. The song title and lyrics reveal the story.

    'My Time' has such a good melody and emotional happy singing. It makes me smile all over and sends a chill right up and down my spine. The combination of vocals and lyrics. There is more to reggae than Bob Marley of course. Much as he was a star and admired and loved. There is more. Big Youth is more! The third CD contains less stellar moments than the first two, but, its still highly enjoyable listening. As his version of 'Hit The Road Jack' testifies. 'Outtasight!'. It is too. A wonderful selection of Big Youth songs and effervescant moments. Its life affirming. It makes you feel alive. Truly it does.

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    important web-masters note : i am not big youth.

    Readers Comments

    Carol & Alan BROWAL@aol.com
    We went to one of your concerts in Bristol, UK about 20 years ago. We had heard your stuff on cassette and travelled from Wales to see you perform. When we walked in, shitttt!!!! we were the only white people in the place. BUT we had a great time. Hope you're still doing great stuff.

    Nathan Crary stiritup14@hotmail.com
    Everytime time someone asks what kind of music I listen to I always say BIG YOUTH! Their like, who the hell is that? I just tell them its just good shit. Seriously, very few people have even heard of him and Im trying to spread the word. I think his music is better than Marley's. Big Youth has been the main staple in my music diet for four months now and I don't see it getting old. I honestly think its helped me become a better, more optimistic person. It's good to know there are some real fans out there as well. If you haven't heard Dread Locks Dread its great too. --peace

    top of page Screaming Target( 1973 )
    Screaming Target / Pride And Joy Rock / Be Careful / Tippertone Rock / One Of These Fine Days / Screaming Target (2) / Killer / Solomon A Gunday / Honesty / I Am Alright / Lee A Low / Concrete Jungle

    Manley Augustus Buchanan was born April 19, 1949. Better known as Big Youth, he started 'toasting' in 1970. By 1973, he was ready to release his first full length LP, 'Screaming Target'. Building on the innovations of 60s toasters such as U Roy, Big Youth introduced a relaxed style married to socially concious themes. He has a lazy, half-slurred style, yet a controlled, cool vibe. The opening title track finds this ex hotel mechanic and cab-driver promoting literacy and positivity over K.C. White's 'No No No' groove. The album as a whole may seem familiar to you, using as it does many old classic familiar grooves, but Big Youth hosts this party beautifully. The art of DJ Toasting is considered by many to be a precursor to American Hip-Hop. Big Youth with 'Screaming Target' and hit singles, was one of the first such men to translate this skill to the recording medium. As such, combined with his clever, meaningfull lyrics, has seen 'Screaming Target' and Big Youth become the 2nd most important figure ( arguably ) in Reggae, behind a certain Bob. As a completely silly aside, during the mid-nineties, this reviewer arrived in Coventry, England to live temporarily with his brother. We had many happy arguments over who was the 'best bob', Marley, Dylan or Robbie Fowler, of Liverpool football club.

    Starting at the end, thick dub reggae bass lines are a feature of 'Concrete Jungle', a superbly atmospheric tune over which Big Youth spells out his views. We've two versions of the title track, both opening with neighbour displeasing screams before settling down with the fabulous 'No No No' groove which has been heavily mixed. 'Honesty' is a highlight with spooked, ghostly rhythms and Big Youth setting out his anti-slavery stall. You know, listening to this makes it clearer where The Specials and 'Ghost Town' came from. Big Youth or no Big Youth, musically 'Screaming Target' is a superb album, best demonstrated by 'The Killer' with wonderful reggae grooves and this piano picking out a melody adding texture and atmosphere. 'Tippertong Rock' is an ode to the original sound system Big Youth used to DJ for. Bass grooves much the fore, little guitar lines here and there. A happy sunshine sound!

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    top of page this page last updated 14/10/07

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