Volcano Eruption

This is one of those compilations that pay tribute to a true hero of the Jamaican music business. Among just a few others, Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes is almost solely responsible for the sound of early dancehall music, and so many of its timeless hits.

So much so, that if you were to list the successful and popular Jamaican songs at the time (late 70s to early/mid 80s), the names ‘Junjo’, ‘Volcano’, and ‘Jah Guidance’, would resonate thunderously. He also played an important part in spreading the sound internationally, particularly in the UK with his connection to Greensleeves Records

With producers such as Jammy’s, Winston Riley, Joe Gibbs, these hit makers had mastered and refined their sound so precisely for the sound systems and dancehalls of the time, that the only way to get the music any heavier was to employ the technology of drum machines and synthesizers, which was to eventuate just a few years later. But before that era of dancehall music, the Volcano sound, as showcased on this release, was a top ranking ruler.

Released recently by VP Records as part of their Reggae Anthology series of compilations (check www.vpreggae.com for other releases in this series), Volcano Eruption features the works of producer Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes and his label/sound system Volcano, and also productions on the label Jah Guidence.

It spans two CDs; Disc 1: Singers, and Disc 2: Deejays (40 songs in total), and also a bonus DVD with interviews, vintage dancehall footage, and album/cover artwork. The package also includes a booklet with comprehensive and informative liner notes. The release is also available on 2LP vinyl but sadly does not include all of the tracks, the DVD, or the album notes.

The roster of artists on this compilation are all true legends of roots reggae and dancehall music.  While some are no longer with us, many of them pioneered new vocal styles and sounds at the time, and are very much a part of the success that Junjo and Volcano obtained. Songs from these catalogs are still among the top sellers in record stores around the world.

The voice of Frankie Paul opens the compilation with the song Worries In The Dance, and like many of the tracks on Disc 1, Disc 2 features the DJ version of these songs. Other singers featured on Disc 1 include John Holt with his epic tune Police and Helicopter, Johnny Osbourne’s Ice Cream Love, Michael Prophet’s Gunman, The Wailing Souls’ Firehouse Rock, the late great Hugh Mundell, and also one of Jamaica’s most enduring and successful artists, Barrington Levy (his first album was produced by Junjo).

The list of Djs on the compilation’s second disc, Deejays, also includes some of the most influential voices in the business. Many of them, like the singers, also went on to record in the UK and America, where several also played important parts in the evolution of the music, paving the way for new emerging genres.

Stand out tracks on Disc 2 are How The West Was Won by Toyan, Zungguzungguzungguzeng by Yellowman, Diseases by Michigan and Smiley, Another One Bites The Dust by Clint Eastwood and General Saint. Alongside other legendary voices such as Sister Nancy, Eek-A-Mouse, Early B, and the youthful voice of Billy Boyo (still in his early teenage years at the time).

Overall this compilation sums up a very formative period in Jamaican music, an exciting, positive, and energetic period as you can hear in the voices of the artists. The productions of Henry Junjo Lawes are essential in any reggae collectors box and the songs collected on Volcano Eruption are a perfect showcase, diverse and sure to please.