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Fast Forward to Africa

Ranking Joe

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Album Review

Ranking Joe achieved his first success as a DJ in the late '70s, via mentor U-Roy's Stur-Gav Hi Fi sound system. Despite subsequent hits that found the singer riding classic rhythms from Bunny Lee's Aggrovators, legendary session band the Roots Radics, and others, he never quite achieved the fame he deserved. This is probably due to his minimal recorded output in comparison to predecessors like Big Youth, contemporaries like Mikey Dread, and followers like Yellowman. Like both U-Roy and DJ Dennis Alcapone, Ranking Joe had his career revived, through a collaboration with London producer Mad Professor. The resulting Fast Forward to Africa proved that he'd aged at least as well, if not better, than the toasters of his day. Not surprisingly, the cultural material is the strongest, though even on the less successful lovers themes, Joe's quick tongue is on full display. The subject matter varies greatly throughout, as does Joe's delivery within the space of each song. The opening title track is as convincing a call for repatriation as one is likely to find. "One Thing 'Deh Pon Me Mind" houses a chilling attack on Babylon made all the more real by its descriptions of violent acts, and "Maccabee Bible" demands the dissemination of a true African history. Though the 1996 issue of the album ended with the weak love number "Hurry Hurry," later copies remedied the situation, adding both the fine "Armageddon Hour" and its understated version counterpart, "Armageddon Dub." With the exception of a few tracks, Fast Forward to Africa represents a triumphant return from a pioneering DJ.

Biography

Born: 01 July 1959 in Kingston, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '70s, '80s

Reggae DJ Ranking Joe was born Joseph Jackson in Kingston on June 1, 1959. Launching his recording career right around the time that the reggae/dub movement began sweeping the world during the mid-'70s, renowned producer Coxsone Dodd took Joe under his wing as he landed a DJ spot with a soundsystem called El Paso Hi-Fi. With Dodd overseeing Joe's early sessions, a debut single was issued in 1975 (under the name of Little Joe), "Gun Court." From there, Joe branched out and worked with a variety of...
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Fast Forward to Africa, Ranking Joe
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