Rob Brunner
June 13, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Champion in the Arena 1976-1977

Current Status
In Season
Jackie Mittoo
Blood and Fire

We gave it a B+

BOB MARLEY & THE WAILERS; LIVE AT THE ROXY (Island/Tuff Gong/UME) Fans probably already own the explosively energetic Live!, one of the all-time great concert recordings. Roxy was taped a year later (in 1976), and though this double disc’s track list is similar, the slowed-down and chilled-out vibe couldn’t be more different. Whether the band is more relaxed or just plain tired is hard to tell, but the result is intensity of another sort, especially on tracks like ”Rat Race” and a stunning 23-minute medley of ”Get Up, Stand Up,” ”No More Trouble,” and ”War.” B+

VARIOUS ARTISTS; TROJAN 12” BOX SET (Trojan) Three bargain-priced CDs devoted to 35 extended remixes — many well over seven minutes long — might seem like too much of a good thing. Not hardly: Featuring names both familiar (Bob Marley, Dennis Brown) and not (Pat Kelly, Dave Richards), it’s actually a ”discomix” treasure trove. A-

JACKIE MITTOO; CHAMPION IN THE ARENA 1976-1977 (Blood & Fire) His name suggests a Star Wars character, but, in fact, the late keyboardist was an original Skatalite and musical director of Jamaica’s famed Studio One in the ’60s. This new CD from the pre-eminent reggae-reissue label combines Showcase (1976) with eight bonus tracks. Unfortunately, the pleasant but prosaic organ grooves don’t live up to Mittoo’s resume, coming off like backing tracks in search of a singer or remixer. B-

VARIOUS ARTISTS; HIGH EXPLOSION: DJ SOUNDS FROM 1970 TO 1976 (Trojan) DJ is the reggae term for new vocals that are chanted over instrumental versions of other people’s songs. If that doesn’t make sense, just check out this double-CD compilation: Boasting heavyweight toasters like U Roy, I Roy, Big Youth, and Prince Far I, it’s a great introduction to the genre. A-

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