So once you’ve thoroughly vetted all of the various roots artists, and with a pretty solid knowlesdge of the foundation deejays, I would recommend diving straight into the period from about 1979/80-1984, a period where the Roots Radics, “Junjo” Lawes, and a young and ambitious engineer named Hopeton Overton Brown AKA “Scientist” were busy transforming the sound and vibe of reggae.  As described by Pekka Vuorinen in his recent interview with Midnight Raver, there were also a handful of immensely talented and hungry “sing-jays” who were doing things with the mic that nobody had ever heard before or imagined.

It all started with Henry “Junjo” Lawes’ Volcano Sound System.  With Radics riddims, tune selections by Danny Dread, and agile deejays like deejays Buro, Shadowman, Toyan, and El Fego Barker rockin’ the mic, Volcano was certainly “mashin’ up de dance” allover the island.  Eventually, Lawes brings a whole host of talented deejays and “sing-jays” to Channel One studio on Maxfield Avenue to test them proper.  One of these young talents was a skinny kid from Clarendon with a love of kung fu and the voice of a champion.  Already becoming a familiar face in the dancehalls, Junjo grabbed young Levy at the age of 16 and brought him to Channel One to record him.  A testament to just how prolific Levy was as a singer in those days, while most artists struggled to put together an album of songs that would sell meagerly in the local shops, Barrington Levy releases three debut albums at the same time!  Bounty Hunter is released in New York, Shine Eye Girl in London, and Shaolin Temple in Jamaica.

Levy went on to become the most well-known sing-jay, with a long stream of heavy hitting singles from 1980-1984.  His performances at Sunsplash are legendary.  The formula of “Junjo”/Roots Radics/Barrington/Scientist was the perfect blend that produced a new sound in the dancehalls, a sound that dominates the scene until the digital revolution, led by former Radics’ keyboardist “Steely” Johnson killed the sound and vibe of the music in 1987.  It has never been the same since.

I absolutely love Barrington Levy singing over a heavy, stylistic riddim played by Flabba and Style Scott.  There is simply no comparison for this sound.  Here is a mix of some of my absolute essentials from this team.  Included here is the first in a series of mixes featuring the deadly riddims of the Roots Radics with the stylistic vocals of young Barrington Levy.  I anticipate a 4-volume set, which speaks to just how prolific this team was in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  Tracks selected primarily from three must-own Barrington Levy albums: Poor Man Style, Run Come Ya, and Teach Me Culture.



1. Barrington Levy – Don’t Pretend/When You’re Feeling Hungry
2. Barrington Levy – I Am Not In Love
3. Barrington Levy – You’re Trying To Ruin My Life
4. Barrington Levy – Hammer (Extended Version)
5. Barrington Levy – She Is The Best Girl
6. Barrington Levy – I Gave You Everything
7. Barrington Levy – One Foot Jo Jo
8. Barrington Levy – Why Did You Leave Me?
9. Barrington Levy – One-Two
10. Barrington Levy – Jah Help Us
11. Barrington Levy – Time Hard
12. Barrington Levy – Full Understanding
13. Barrington Levy – I Hold The Handle
14. Barrington Levy – Making Tracks
15. Barrington Levy – When You’re Young and In Love