by / March 4th, 2008 /

Compilations – Soul Jazz Records / Compass Point

(Soul Jazz Records)

A comprehensive two-disc compilation which succeeds as an audio document of UK Dancehall / Hip-Hop / Reggae / Grime and Jungle MCs, An England Story runs the gamut of the last 25 years of UK music with Carribean roots. It features seminal tracks from the vanguards of UK black music such as General Levy, Glamma Kid, Roots Manuva, Jah Screechie, Warrior Queen, Tippa Irie, Skibadee and many more.

The original mix first appeared on the Blogariddims podcast series (You can listen to the original on the right of this page), run by the excellent Irish music blog Weareie, amongst others. For those with a passing interest in any of the above genres, it’s a must-own compilation, as many of the tunes have been sampled or have been cropping up in DJ mixes for years. The accompanying extensive booklet of interviews, lyrics, sleeve notes and photographs is worth the purchase alone and aficionados also should relish the opportunity to own the tracks collated here on quadruple vinyl.

Like Soul Jazz’s Tropicalia compilation from 2006, An England Story paints a wonderful overview of a geocentric musical scene which takes its cue from its roots and culture, yet creates a subset of English music with a wholly distinct and unique identity to stand on its own.

~ Niall Byrne


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Funky Nassau: The Compass Point Story 1980 – 1986 (Strut)

Of late, the Compass Point studios in the Bahamas have become something of a watch-word for a certain type of artist – Robert Palmer, Shania Twain, Joss Stone, Mariah Carey and the like – but in its infancy, it was far more than just a place to grab a tan and make bland music. Founded by Island label boss Chris Blackwell and the base for the Sly and Robbie production crew, at its early creative height, Compass Point provided a meeting place for white and black artists of all persuasions.

Funky Nassau does a fine job of providing an overview, if at times delving a little too deeply into the archives for the casual listener. Grace Jones’ -My Jamaican Guy’, Tom Tom Club’s -Genius Of Love’ and Talking Heads sit at the well-known end of the spectrum, before a rake of curios make for mixed listening. Too often, the production, however radical at the time, sounds dated, and the chances of a Gwen Guthrie rarity is unlikely to set many pulses racing. Far more interesting is Ian Dury’s -Spasticus Autisticus’, here given a funk punk makeover by the Seven Seas Players. Best of all though is Sly Dunbar’s -River Niger’, a mighty dub track that conjures up the spirit of the setting and is perhaps the only thing here to have truly stood the test of time.

~ Phil Udell

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  • Niall-great review of ‘An England Story’. I bought it this weekend and it is brilliant.
    Can’t wait to play it out for the Texans! 😉

  • Nice review Niall – ill pass it on to the Heatwave fellas.

  • rayoayondayo

    20 tunes to sum up 25 years of MC Culture in the UK????

    I think its a great idea for a compilation but it inevitably fails to deliver.

    Sure theres great tunes on there but how many great tunes/ artist don’t get a mention?