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on 11 August 2008
Norman Jay (MBE) is at the helm of an eighth collection issued under the title 'Good Times', although unlike previous volumes this is issued on the Azuli Record label, and bears the addition 'London' to the title legend. But it isn't all about change (in a reflection of Jay's recent departure from BBC London), the compilation still features the usual two cds of records apparently chosen personally by Norman.

Given that this is the eighth compilation in the series one might expect the law of dimishing returns to have begun, as the tracks which are widely and generally acknowledged as 'classics' have already been included in previous editions - and Jay does appear to have chosen tracks which (for the most part) are not likely to have been chosen or included in similarly themed collections. There are a few which are obvious 'crowd pleasers' - 'On A Ragga Tip' by the SL2 and Origin Unknown's 'Valley Of The Shadows' are records which ought to be in every self-respecting DJ's record collection (and beyond), and there are a few tracks which have enjoyed an increased profile amongst soul and funk fans in recent years -Brainstorm's 'We're On Our Way Home' being a particularly notable example. There are also records included which ought to be far more widely known - the joyous 'A Mother For My Children' by the O'Jays and 'Get It' by the Dramatics are both gorgeous - and Jay features a track by the former Jill Scott backing singer Vivian Green - which may hopefully lead purchasers to consider exploring her self titled first album.

Beyond these titles this appears to be a compilation designed to be re-visited over an extended period of time, it does not appear to be about producing 'immediate' musical satisfaction, and this reflects the fact that the link between the records included here and Notting Hill Carnival is becoming increasingly tenuous (unlike, for example, the first three 'Good Times' titles).

On a separate note, buyers should be aware that the mastering quality is generally good - but the Ray Charles track 'Wichita Lineman' appears to have been mastered directly from vinyl, as evidenced by the audible and distinctive pops and clicks which can plague that particular medium.

So, you ask, should you buy? Subjectively this is far more coherent compilation than 'Good Times 7', but it appears to mark a move away from explicitly linking the series to Notting Hill Carnival and the immediacy and dynamism demanded of music being played in that particular setting. Instead this release is similar in spirit to Jay's 'Giant 45' compilation and radio show, where he concentrates on exploring predominantly black music in a way that seeks to inform, educate and expose, in a spirit of sharing which is never patronising.

In conclusion, this release may hint at a change in direction away from that seen in earlier releases, and provided that Jay can continue to secure licensing rights which maintain quality over quantity, fans of the previous 'Good Times' cds will continue to follow him.
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on 9 October 2008
As an avid collector of the Good times albums, I was abit worried about how the series was beggining to decline in terms of track selection quality. Volume 7 was very poor, and so I expected this to be even worse, but to my delight it wasn't.

As this is now volume 8, there can be only so many great tracks that Norman can share with us, but for this CD he has dug deep and found 24 more to keep us going for another year.

It's not as great as the earlier editions, but it's still a good CD, and well worth having in your collection!
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