Trojan Records – Tighten Up Volume 2

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To celebrate its 40th anniversary Trojan have given their most renowned collection a deluxe makeover. Furnished with an extra disc of material, Tighten Up Volume 2 remains a good entry-point for people who like the sound of reggae and love to dance – just as it was four decades ago. I don’t have this deluxe edition, mine is a slightly tired copy I found in a used record store in London, but it doesn’t matter, it plays just fine.

The UK was the second biggest market for reggae back then and this compilation would turn up at parties, and would often be left there, all the time. The most zealous converts were the early skinheads, before their ideology took a turn for the worse.

With regards to the re-issue, Trojan’s ownership has changed hand several times over the decades and the current incarnation is owned by Sanctuary, who have no affiliation to the Trojan of the past at all. I saw a documentary on Trojan, who were very much an on the fly operation at the beginning. An offshoot of Island if I remember correctly who would pick things up at local London markets that were being imported from Jamaica and within a couple of weeks would have them released here. 

There were a whole host of sub-genres to come, but at this time everything, for the most part, was upbeat and, most importantly, you could dance to it if you were that way inclined. 

Tracklist

A1The PioneersLong Shot Kick The Bucket
A2Rudy MillsJohn Jones
A3Clancy EcclesFire Corner
A4The Soul SistersWreck A Buddy
A5DandyReggae In Your Jeggae
A6Clancy EcclesFattie Fattie
B1The UpsettersReturn Of Django
B2The KingstoniansSufferer
B3Joya LandisMoonlight Lover
B4The BleechersCome Into My Parlour
B5The SoulmatesThem A Laugh And A Ki Ki
B6The UpsettersLive Injection

As part of the 50th anniversary media for Trojan, Time Out asked Donn Letts for his top ten Trojan releases, here’s the pre-amble and then the tracks:

From The Clash to the great jungle and dubstep DJs, so many musicians have been inspired by Trojan Records, the record label that introduced ska, rocksteady and reggae to the UK. During its heyday in the late ’60s and early ’70s, Trojan launched artists like Desmond Dekker, Toots And The Maytals and Bob Marley to the British charts and became an obsession for the nation’s youth cultures: skinheads, suedeheads and mods.

Among those early Trojan listeners was a young Don Letts, a passionate music fan whose DJ stints at London club The Roxy in the late ’70s helped introduce reggae to the punk crowd. We asked Letts to select the best tracks and songs from Trojan Records, and he obliged – though he warns: ‘It would have been a lot easier to pick the Top 100 from this iconic label’s catalogue.’

‘It’s a Jam in the Streets’ – John Holt

‘John Holt was one of Jamaica’s finest crooners, who’d go on to score several UK hits with his trademark string-driven arrangements.’

‘Spanish Harlem’ – Val Bennett

‘This bass-heavy instrumental of the Ben E King/Aretha Franklin classic is a great summer soundtrack.’

‘54-46 Was My Number’ – Toots And The Maytals

‘Written after Toots Hibbert was busted for possession, this was one of the first ska records to get global exposure.’


‘Soul Special’ [aka ‘Soul Scorcher’] – Carl ‘King Cannon’ Bryan

‘Actually the B-side of a Jamaican classic called “Cuss Cuss”, this became one of the most covered riddims in Jamaica.’

‘Queen of the World’ – Lloyd & Claudette

‘A firm favourite of the ladies when I’m DJing out and about. I’ve been trying to get Chrissie Hynde to cover this for years.’


‘Return of Django’ – The Upsetters

‘A skinhead classic – and I’m talking about the fashion version, not the fascist version – inspired by a spaghetti western cowboy.

‘Long Shot Kick the Bucket’ – The Pioneers

‘Believe it or not, this is about a race horse called Long Shot that dropped dead during an event at Caymanas Park, Jamaica’s only race track.’

‘Clean Race’ – Scotty

‘There’s a break in this record where the producer tells the artist, “Look, sport, I make the hits not the public.” It’s straight out of the movie “The Harder They Come”.’

‘Herbsman Shuffle’ – King Stitt And The Dynamites

‘A Joe Strummer favourite by one of Jamaica’s first DJs. In Jamaica a DJ is a MC or rapper, also known as a “toaster”.’

‘Everything I Own’ – Ken Boothe

‘A Bread original later covered by Boy George, but bettered by no-one. This was a UK chart hit for Trojan.’

The Greatest Christmas Number 1 Ever

Christmas is fast approaching and I’m sure everybody is as excited about what the Christmas Number 1 will be as I am, which is actually not at all, I couldn’t care less, however, there was a time when it held a much greater importance. The Beatles have the most Christmas Number 1s with four in total. The first three, I Want To Hold Your Hand, I Feel Fine and Day Tripper/We CanWork It Out topped the Official Singles Chart consecutively from 1963–1965. Hello, Goodbye was the fourth in 1967. Spice Girls also had three consecutive Christmas Number 1s: 2 Become 1, Too Much and Goodbye from 1996 to 1998.

Versions of charity single Do They Know It’s Christmas? have topped the charts at Christmas three times, Band Aid in 1984, Band Aid II in 1989, and finally for Band Aid 20 in 2004. The first version of Do They Know It’s Christmas? is the biggest selling Christmas Number 1 of all time, with over 3.8 million copies sold.

The only song to get the Christmas Number 1 twice by the same artist is Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. It first topped the Christmas charts in 1975 and then again 16 years later, following the death of Freddie Mercury. 

All fascinating facts but by far the most interesting Christmas Number one story for me is from 2009. The X Factor winner had, for the previous four years, been pretty much guaranteed the Christmas Number 1, and they were all pretty crap. To refresh your memory, in 2005 the Christmas Number 1 was That’s My Goal by Shane Ward:

Apologies for the overload of bland, it really is awful but winning the X Factor was, at this time, an absolute guarantee of sales and the show itself was almost offering the winner the Christmas Number 1 as part of the prize for winning. 2006 saw Leona Lewis win the show and her single was A Moment Like This. Now there is no doubt that she has a great voice and she does seem to be a lovely person who has managed a decent career as a result of the show. I don’t like the song very much either but the girl can sing:

Still hungry for more? Of course you are, how could you not be? On to 2007 and Leon Jackson with When You Believe, drivel, absolute drivel. Jackson has been dropped by his record label and has done nothing much of any note since his one and only album. Here it is, enjoy:

Still with me? You are? I’m surprised. On to 2008 and Leona Lewis light, or rather Alexandra Burke, who is very much like Lewis, just not as good or as likeable. There is a also terrible ridicule due for taking on Hallelujah and ruining it, Alexandra, do you have any clue whatsoever what you are singing about?:

In 2008 something was happening, a push back against the contrived crap being vomited into our faces by the X Faxtor had begun. A husband and wife team, Jon and Tracey Morter, started a Facebook campaign to get Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up to number one as a nod to the popular internet meme of Rickrolling. While the campaign did gain some traction, managing to get the song back into the charts 21 years after its initial release, eventually peaking at number 73, it ultimately failed and the number one spot, unsurprisingly, went to Alexander Burke, it’s up there if you can bear to listen again.

The couple had another go, this time trying to get Rage Against the Machine’s 1992 hit Killing in the Name to the Christmas Number one spot. It’s a pretty fine choice, an anti-establishment mantra with the theme of not doing what you’re told. It was also pretty sweary, so that would be funny. 

Over a million people ended up liking the Facebook page resulting in the story being widely covered by the media. Lead guitarist of RATM, Tom Morello, was supportive of the campaign from the beginning and the band pledged to donate all the proceeds they made from the sale of the song that Christmas to the homeless charity, Shelter. The band also thanked fans for their support in 2010 by playing a free gig in London.

The song’s lyrics, which contain the word “f*ck” about seventeen times, depending on the version you’re listening to, were deemed unsuitable for radio. This came to a head when the band was invited to play a live version of the song on BBC Radio 5live and they were specifically requested to not say the line “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.” Lead singer, Zack de la Rocha, screamed the offending line four times during the song before being pulled off air. 

The Band were signed with a label owned by Sony BMI, which also owned the label X Factor winners signed with, so the same company that was the source of the initial outrage just made more money than they normally would have thanks to the promotion and competition driving up sales. Although that was not really the point of it.

RATM did find themselves, rather surprisingly and probably inappropriately, with the Christmas Number 1. This is what it beat to the Number 1 spot that Christmas, Joe McElderry’s The Climb:

I’d rather listen to a dog throwing up to be honest. 

So, just in case I haven’t made it obvious enough, Rage Against The Machine gets my vote for the best ever Christmas Number 1. I do hope it starts to appear on compilations such as ‘Now That’s What I Call Christmas’:

Here is the full list of all the Christmas Number 1’s since the charts began:

YEARTITLEARTIST
1952HERE IN MY HEARTAL MARTINO
1953ANSWER MEFRANKIE LAINE
1954LET’S HAVE ANOTHER PARTYWINIFRED ATWELL
1955CHRISTMAS ALPHABETDICKIE VALENTINE
1956JUST WALKIN’ IN THE RAINJOHNNIE RAY
1957MARY’S BOY CHILDHARRY BELAFONTE
1958IT’S ONLY MAKE BELIEVECONWAY TWITTY
1959WHAT DO YOU WANT TO MAKE THOSE EYES AT ME FOR?EMILE FORD & THE CHECKMATES
1960I LOVE YOUCLIFF RICHARD & THE SHADOWS
1961MOON RIVERDANNY WILLIAMS
1962RETURN TO SENDERELVIS PRESLEY
1963I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HANDTHE BEATLES
1964I FEEL FINETHE BEATLES
1965DAY TRIPPER/WE CAN WORK IT OUTTHE BEATLES
1966GREEN, GREEN GRASS OF HOMETOM JONES
1967HELLO, GOODBYETHE BEATLES
1968LILY THE PINKTHE SCAFFOLD
1969TWO LITTLE BOYSROLF HARRIS
1970I HEAR YOU KNOCKINGDAVE EDMUNDS
1971ERNIE (THE FASTEST MILKMAN IN THE WEST)BENNY HILL
1972LONG HAIRED LOVER FROM LIVERPOOLJIMMY OSMOND
1973MERRY XMAS EVERYBODYSLADE
1974LONELY THIS CHRISTMASMUD
1975BOHEMIAN RHAPSODYQUEEN
1976WHEN A CHILD IS BORN (SOLEADO)JOHNNY MATHIS
1977MULL OF KINTYRE/GIRLS’ SCHOOLWINGS
1978MARY’S BOY CHILD – OH MY LORDBONEY M
1979ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL (PART 2)PINK FLOYD
1980THERE’S NO ONE QUITE LIKE GRANDMAST WINIFRED’S SCHOOL CHOIR
1981DON’T YOU WANT METHE HUMAN LEAGUE
1982SAVE YOUR LOVERENÉE AND RENATO
1983ONLY YOUTHE FLYING PICKETS
1984DO THEY KNOW IT’S CHRISTMAS?BAND AID
1985MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONESHAKIN’ STEVENS
1986REET PETITEJACKIE WILSON
1987ALWAYS ON MY MINDPET SHOP BOYS
1988MISTLETOE AND WINECLIFF RICHARD
1989DO THEY KNOW IT’S CHRISTMAS?BAND AID II
1990SAVIOUR’S DAYCLIFF RICHARD
1991BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY/THESE ARE THE DAYS OF OUR LIVESQUEEN
1992I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOUWHITNEY HOUSTON
1993MR BLOBBYMR BLOBBY
1994STAY ANOTHER DAYEAST 17
1995EARTH SONGMICHAEL JACKSON
19962 BECOME 1SPICE GIRLS
1997TOO MUCHSPICE GIRLS
1998GOODBYESPICE GIRLS
1999I HAVE A DREAM/SEASONS IN THE SUNWESTLIFE
2000CAN WE FIX IT?BOB THE BUILDER
2001SOMETHIN’ STUPIDROBBIE WILLIAMS & NICOLE KIDMAN
2002SOUND OF THE UNDERGROUNDGIRLS ALOUD
2003MAD WORLDMICHAEL ANDREWS & GARY JULES
2004DO THEY KNOW IT’S CHRISTMAS?BAND AID 20
2005THAT’S MY GOALSHAYNE WARD
2006A MOMENT LIKE THISLEONA LEWIS
2007WHEN YOU BELIEVELEON JACKSON
2008HALLELUJAHALEXANDRA BURKE
2009KILLING IN THE NAMERAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
2010WHEN WE COLLIDEMATT CARDLE
2011WHEREVER YOU AREMILITARY WIVES WITH GARETH MALONE
2012HE AIN’T HEAVY, HE’S MY BROTHERTHE JUSTICE COLLECTIVE
2013SKYSCRAPERSAM BAILEY
2014SOMETHING I NEEDBEN HAENOW
2015A BRIDGE OVER YOUTHE LEWISHAM & GREENWICH NHS CHOIR
2016ROCKABYECLEAN BANDIT
2017PERFECTED SHEERAN
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