Gorky 5

It had to happen. Someone would eventually realise that Survivor's 'Eye Of The Tiger' remains one of the great unsung treasures of late-20th century art ...

IT HAD TO HAPPEN. SOMEONE would eventually realise that Survivor’s ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ remains one of the great unsung treasures of late-20th century art. What else would explain the way the old [I]Rocky [/I]theme tune has been hijacked as one of the hottest dancehall rhythms of the year? Forget the excellent recent re-cut by NYC rappers MOP for a second, the grizzled monster riff here provides a bedrock for ‘Sexy Gal’, Shaggy’s tribute to the women of the world, and the musical backdrop for Merciless’ homicidal gun-waving on ‘One Of Them’.

And that’s not all. Weird scenes are definitely going down in Jamaica’s recording studios. How else would you explain why Buccaneer’s ‘Fade Away’ is built on excerpts from Celtic chanteuse Enya’s ‘Sail Away’?

Dancehall reggae has always swallowed up other musics, but this compilation shows how its current slew of stars now think global. And if most artists dwell on carnal matters – and are chastised for such on Sizzla’s scorching ‘Like Mountain’ – it is to offer a challenge of sorts to the mainstream’s habitual coyness.

Certainly there’ll be a few embarrassed ears exposed to TOK & Lady Saw’s lubricious ‘Hardcore Lover’ and, sure, Goofy’s ‘Tatty Boom’ uses euphemisms to avoid being rated X, yet there remains a subtle but distinct social undercurrent. The magnanimous General Degree offers relationship advice to women on ‘Signal’, whilst Ghost’s eerie ‘What Have You Done’ is its spooky opposite.

Strangest customer of all, though, must be Red Rat and his high-pitched squawking. He sounds 15 and shouldn’t be getting up to what he does. But people grow up fast in the dance.