There’s no bigger dancehall fan at XLR8R than publisher Andrew Smith, who can be found on any given day nodding his head various jams from Jamaica or inserting the odd bit of patois into editorial meetings. You can bet he’ll choose this King Jammy Selector’s Choice boxed set for his Christmas dream come true.

The mid-’80s were a glorious time for dancehall. Drum machines and synthesizers made their introduction into many tunes, and dancehall arrived on the world stage for the first time via crossovers into mainstream hip-hop. Legends like Ninja Man, Tiger, Tenor Saw, and Shabba Ranks launched their careers during this prolific time, all of whom are represented on this astounding series of dancehall licks produced by the mixing-desk ruler of this period, King Jammy.

Each King Jammy’s Selector’s Choice volume contains two discs with around 20 tracks each, spanning a period from 1985-1989, the most fertile of Jammy’s career. If you’re lucky enough to own all four volumes, that’s over nine hours of serious “bad boy tune” and lots of ganja pipe you’ll need to be lighting in order to work your way through this wickedest of roughneck, cantankerous reggae collections.

Although every tune on these discs is priceless, some standouts are Dean Fraser’s dubbed-out “Stalag Excursion” and Pompidoo’s raspy “Synthesizer Voice” on Volume One; harmonious crooning on Pinchers’ “Champion Bubbler” and Gregory Isaac’s “Bits and Pieces” on the second volume; and several scorchers by Admiral Bailey on Volume Three, including a personal favorite, “Nowhere Better Than Yard.” Volume Four offers some of the biggest and baddest of Jammy’s dancefloor anthems including Tiger’s “Boombastic,” Shabba Rank’s “Love Punnany Bad,” and Risto Benji’s “Gimme Di Money.”

Not only has VP Records done all the legwork in digging up some of these fine tunes from Jammy’s vault; the label has also made sure that each volume contains excellent track descriptions and vintage images of Jammy and crew. An excellent pick for the serious “tune!!!” lover on your list.

King Jammy Selector’s Choice Volumes 1- 4 are available for $18.68 at VP Records.

Andrew Smith

The Other Days of Christmas
Day 1, Kids in the Hall DVD Megaset
Day 2, Eye of the Hawk beer
Day 3, Sad Ghost salt & pepper shakers
Day 4, This Heat’s Out of Cold Storage Boxed Set
Day 5, Dustin Dollin’s Project 8 No Skool Vans
Day 6, Toys from Kid Robot
Day 7, Gama bird satchel and wallet
Day 8, Official Tourist Rave Hoods
Day 9, M-Audio IE-10 earphones
Day 11, Madvillain action figure
Day 12, XLR8R Subscription