HI YO SILVER, AWAY!: It's great to see the UK-based Greensleeves label overhauling its reissue program with fully restored artwork, added bonus tracks and reasonable sound quality. Having been in the business for the best part of three decades - through thick and plenty thin - the Greensleeves vault is a true treasure trove, and recent re-releases of Clint Eastwood & General Saint's STOP THAT TRAIN, Barrington Levy's classic ENGLISHMAN, and the speaker-smashing PRINCE JAMMY DESTROYS THE INVADERS set, as well as excellent MOST WANTED collections for Yellowman and Wailing Souls, are very welcome additions to the current catalogue.
An early pioneer of the rub-a-dub and dancehall deejay sounds of the very late seventies and early eighties, Lone Ranger was pretty much the cream of a crop of new talent that included the likes of the legendary Yellowman, Eek A Mouse, Toyan, General Echo, and so on. His classic recordings for Clement Dodd at Studio One, some available on the OTHER SIDE OF DUB collection (recently reissued by Heartbeat with bonus material), marked young Anthony Waldron as one to watch, but it was his hit single BARNABAS COLLINS that really caught a fire, both at home and abroad. Over the next three or four years, the Lone Ranger recorded scores of crucial rub-a-dub sides for the likes of Techniques boss Winston Riley (collected on the DJ DADDY and ROSEMARIE albums) and the Channel One crew (the massive M16 and others), as well as more Studio One material, picking up a legion of followers and more than a couple of imitators in the process.
HI YO SILVER was released in 1982 and was produced by Lone Ranger himself. This reissue is long overdue because HI YO SILVER is easily one of the very finest example of the early eighties style, connecting the dots between foundation deejay recordings of the sixties and seventies by U Roy, Dennis Alcapone, Big Youth, Scotty and others, and the modern dancehall sound that Wayne Smith and Jammy's - with a big assist from Casio - launched in 1985 with UNDER ME SLENG TENG. With the unstoppable Sly and Robbie running the rhythms, Lone Ranger's production work here is outstanding, easily the equal of the era's premier producers like Henry "Junjo" Lawes, Jah Thomas and Linval Thompson. There's not much point in detailing this collection track by track because the quality is so consistently good, but if I had to pick highlights, I'd definitely have to mention the genre-defining RUB & SCRUB, as well as the brilliant SOLOMON where Puppa Ranger absolutely essays a set of classic deejay lyrics and makes them all his own. It's ten tracks of pure, pure rub-a-dub niceness, and if that's not enough, Greensleeves also added the storming twelve inch mix of the hit JOHNNY MEK YOU BAD SO and Sly and Robbie's original instrumental, OUTSIDE RIGHT. Excellent!