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Various artists - Virgin Front Line: Sounds of reality | FESTIVALPHOTO

Various artists - Virgin Front Line: Sounds of reality



On 10th March 1978 Virgin Records launched the Front Line record label. It only lasted two years but in that time managed to release 46 albums and 26 singles, all Roots Reggae. Artists included Prince Hammer, Althea & Donna, The Abyssinians and Gregory Isaacs amongst many more. Over the years many albums have been re-released, but now the label is being remembered in a box set.

The new release is a 5 CD box set containing 92 songs from a range of artists. Impressively of those 92 songs, 31 have never been released before on CD, so fans who moved away from vinyl finally get a chance to own these songs.

Also included in the package is a 52 page booklet, with a foreword from John Lydon, whose talent scouting trip to Jamaica with Richard Branson early in 1978 was key to Virgin’s acquisition of some of the finest Reggae recordings of the era. The booklet contains information about the history of Front Line as well as photos.
The set also contains four high quality reproductions of classic posters from the seventies, as well as a car sticker, based on the Front Line Rockers badge from 1976.

The five discs are labelled as "Front line: I", "Front line: II", "Front line: III", "From the vaults" and "The Discomixes". For me, the best stuff is on the first three discs which between them contain 65 great reggae tracks. The Discomixes disc contains just 11 songs - so half the number on the first three discs, and this is down to the length of the tracks. "From the vaults" is similar with 15 tracks, half of which are 12" mixes. I've never been a great fan of 12" mixes or "extended mixes" - to my mind they take a great track then add a load of padding that just distracts from the best parts of the song, but that's just my personal preference. Certainly listening to this album I do prefer the shorter tracks from the first three discs over the longer extended songs on the last two discs, but while I prefer the first three discs, I've still enjoyed listening to the last two as well. There's plenty of listening here - over 5 hours of music, and I've been listening to the five discs for the last few days pretty much constantly - this release really is packed full of top quality reggae.

It's not the cheapest reggae compilation album around at £38, but you do get a lot of music for your money. There are two cheaper Front line releases that came out earlier this year ("Front line presents dub" and "Front line presents roots"), but there seems to be little or no overlap with this new release, so if you're a fan of roots reggae then I'd say this 5 CD box set is a fairly essential purchase.

"Virgin Front Line: Sounds of reality" will be released on 11th August.

Track listing:

Disc 1:

1. Right Time - The Mighty Diamonds
2. Natty Rebel - U-Roy
3. Declaration Of Rights - Johnny Clarke
4. Don't Touch I Man Locks - I-Roy
5. Looks Is Deceiving - The Gladiators
6. Freedom Fighters - Delroy Washington
7. The Great Psalms - U-Roy
8. Civilisation - Keith Hudson
9. Know Yourself Mankind - The Gladiators
10. Africa - The Mighty Diamonds
11. Runaway Girl - U-Roy
12. Killer Dub - The Revolutionaries
13. Have Mercy - The Mighty Diamonds
14. Musical Shark Attack - I-Roy
15. Thank You Baby - Keith Hudson
16. I Wish It Could Go On Forever - Johnny Clarke
17. Shame And Pride - The Mighty Diamonds
18. Chatty Chatty Mouth - The Gladiators
19. Roots, Natty Roots, Natty Congo - Johnny Clarke
20. Give All The Praise To Jah - Delroy Washington
21. It Dread Inna Inglan (For George Lindo) - Poet and The Roots
22. Planet Called Earth (Extended Version) - The Mighty Diamonds

Disc 2:

1. Jah Works - The Gladiators
2. Natty Dread Upon A Mountain Top - U Brown
3. I Love You So - The Twinkle Brothers
4. Foggy Road - Prince Far I
5. Mr Bassie - Sly Dunbar
6. Sister Bella - Prince Hammer
7. Make A Truce - Althea And Donna
8. Dread Beat An' Blood - Poet and The Roots
9. Rub A Dub Style - Ranking Trevor
10. Holy Mount Zion - Culture
11. Tribute To Steve Biko - Tapper Zukie
12. Love We A Deal With - Big Youth
13. Jordan River - I-Roy
14. Cocaine - Jah Lloyd
15. Dreadlocks The Time Is Now - The Gladiators
16. Free Africa - The Twinkle Brothers
17. No More War - Prince Far I
18. Cairo - Joyella Blade
19. Bible - Prince Hammer
20. Fire Stick - I-Roy
21. Dis Ya Sounds - Jah Lloyd
22. She Want A Phensic (Dangerous Woman) - Tapper Zukie

Disc 3:

1. Lonely Girl - Gregory Isaacs
2. Mr Music - Sly Dunbar
3. 4000 Years - The Mighty Diamonds
4. Fire In A Wire (Extended Version) - I-Roy
5. Jahoviah - The Twinkle Brothers
6. Get Ready - The Gladiators
7. I Got To Tell You Goodbye - U-Roy
8. I Tried - Culture
9. Borno - Prince Far I
10. South African Enlistment - The Abyssinians
11. Oh Lord - Tapper Zukie
12. Rasta Fiesta - Sly Dunbar
13. Distant Drums - The Twinkle Brothers
14. Weather Balloon - U Brown
15. Holiday Ride - The Gladiators
16. Natty Never Get Weary - Culture
17. Hey You - The Abyssinians
18. Let's Dance - Gregory Isaacs
19. Upful One - Big Youth
20. Keep On Trying - The Twinkle Brothers
21. Green Bay Incident - Jah Lloyd

Disc 4:

1. Small Axe - U-Roy
2. Africa (12" Mix) - The Twinkle Brothers
3. Slavery Let It Go - Doctor Alimantado
4. Pocket Money (Discomix) - The Gladiators
5. Black Star Liner (Extended Version) - U Brown
6. Going To Negril (12'' Version) - Althea And Donna
7. Hill And Gully (12" Mix) - I-Roy
8. Bodyguard (Extended) - The Mighty Diamonds
9. Soon Forward - Gregory Isaacs
10. A Who Say (Extended Version) - Sly Dunbar
11. Jah Kingdom Come (12" Mix) - The Twinkle Brothers
12. Chalice In The Palace / Wear You To The Ball (Live From The Lyceum,United Kingdom / 1976) - U-Roy

Disc 5:

1. In This Time - The Mighty Diamonds
2. Tune In (12" Mix) - Gregory Isaacs
3. Can't Study The Rastaman (Aka Babylon Can't Study) - Culture
4. Throw Away Your Gun (12" Mix) - Prince Far I
5. Bone Dub - Jah Lloyd
6. I Don't Want To Be Lonely Anymore (12" Mix) - The Twinkle Brothers
7. Jah Loves (Alternate Version) - The Abyssinians
8. Selassie I - Delroy Washington
9. Hip Hug (12" Mix) - Vivian Weathers
10. It Mek - Althea And Donna
11. All Wi Doin' Is Defendin (12" Mix) - Poet and The Roots
12. I Need A Roof / Roof Top Dub - The Mighty Diamonds
13. Mr. Brown (12" Mix) - Gregory Isaacs
14. Black Rose - Culture
15. Virgin Rock - Keith Hudson

Skribent: Anthony May
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