This is a spiritual collection of stoic roots music, featuring the soul influenced vocal styling of Cornell Campbell.
"King in My Empire" 12" (released on Basic Channel with Rhythm and Sound) has kept his profile high with roots lovers – The track was distinctive due to its stripped minimalist structure and "roll off" sub lows, contrasted with ethereal vocals. This collection from Trojan is stylistically mixed, combining his soulful output with lover's tunes and some evocative sufferer's roots vocals.
CD 1 features the hooligan bass of "Dance Inna Greenwich Farm" later versioned by the great Dr. Alimantado. Another high point is Campbell's version of Johnny Clarke's "None Shall Escape" – here entitled "Gun Court."
"Stay Down In Babylon" is a hymnal chant. "Jah A Go Beat Them" is a thunderous cut to Coxsonne's "Freedom Blues" – later also versioned by Tappa Zukie as "MPLA."
Another cut from Tappa's "MPLA" album surfaces here – the impassioned "Please Be True", with its shifting Tubby's/Bunny Lee rhythm track burning red hot under the emotive vocal.
"Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" moves on from the Bunny Lee flying cymbal style, which can wax repetitive and begin to grate – so it is a relief when the style shifts to a militant Rockers snare and rim shot heat.
CD 2 steps up the pressure with a later Sly and Robbie Rockers style, including some Radics tunes – "Malicious World" is a dark and pessimistic realism lyric, inclining towards misanthropy and a bleak view of humanity. "Fight against Corruption" is Cornell's version of Junior Byles "Beat Down Babylon" with a swirling Scientist mix.
CD 2 also features an original contribution to the history of roots music, "Jah Jah Me No Born Yah", in which Cornell sounds more like the Afro Cuban vocalist Celia Cruz, or a vocalist from the Fania All Stars than a JA roots singer. Besides a very strong Afro Cuban influence in the vocals here, the melody and inflection sounds similar to prevalent female vocal styles from Southern and Central Africa in the early 60's.
The high point of the album is the moving "Hypocrites/AKA Blessed Are They Who Keep The Commandments" which is a beautiful version to the "Tribute To Steve Biko" from Tappa Zukie's "Peace in the Ghetto" album.
"Blessed are they who keep the commandments, for they have the right to the Tree of Life. Downpressers cannot enter. Hypocrites too, cannot enter. No liars and thieves cannot enter into Jah Kingdom– it's only by the works that you do. No false teacher and false prophet cannot enter."
This whopping 30-CD box set gathers together the best of Trojan's three-disc box set series. Included are the Ska, DJ, Dub, Instrumentals, Jamaican Superstars, Lovers, Producer Series, Rocksteady, Roots, and Tribute to Bob Marley volumes, each of which can be found under Trojan Box Set for their individual reviews. What's lacking here is a booklet with additional notes and information; the bulk seems to demand some extra coverage and care, yet all that's here are the original notes of each volume – only as much text as can fit on the back of the CD sleeves. From a music standpoint, however, this box is excellent; a truly diverse and comprehensive collection. Of the 500 songs, less than ten reappear on another volume, so you get a more-than-satisfying amount of music spanning the history of the Trojan label.