When Richard Branson saw the success Chris Blackwell was having with the reggae music he signed for Island Records, Branson felt he would like to start his own reggae subsidiary as well, and be created Front Line Records. Front Line: Sounds Of Assembly (Virgin/Universal) is a great 5CD compilation putting together some of the best music by the best artists from one of the best eras of reggae music, so if you’re also a fan of dub, rock steady, and other sub-genres, you’re going to love this. If you’re someone who has ever collected some of the box sets released by Trojan Records, this one is going to feel that way with the amount of music that’s on here. Sadly, Front Line only lasted for under two years but in that time they released 46 albums and 26 singles, yet that’s a lot of music in that short lifespan.
The artists on here are amazing, with works from Gregory Isaacs, Big Youth, The Abyssinians, The Mighty Diamonds, Keith Hudson, U Roy, I Roy, Sly Dunbar, Culture, Tapper Zukie, Jah Lloyd & The Black Lion, Prince Far I and many more. For four of the five discs, each one has over 20 songs to go through and while you may be used to a Trojan box dedicated to a specific theme, this one goes back and forth between roots reggae and dub throughout, going through not only the diversity of Jamaica’s music but also how well stocked Front Line Records wanted to become. This is the perfect album to listen to in its entirety on a Saturday night, or take time to go through each disc one by one. It’s not only great reggae, but great music period from start to finish, and Front Line: Sounds Of Assembly will be worth the experience felt.