Over the course of four CDs, this is the essential musical history of the loudest island in the world, with the emphasis on essential. It starts in the time before ska, and brings it all up to the dominance of dancehall in the '90s. Along the way there's ska, rocksteady, reggae, and dub; 95 great tracks, every single one a classic. About the only major artist not represented is Lee Perry, and his productions sneak in there. Steve Barrow's notes will carry you through the story. This is about as perfect as they come, in both form and content.
The opening tom hits and fuzzbox riffs that start Indigo Meadow give the indication that this is yet another turn on the Black Angels' merry-go-round of stoner rock and neo-psychedelia. However, the third song, "Don't Play with Guns," takes a decided turn with its big pop single hook, and the follow-ups "Holland" and "The Day" follow suit, as songs that are more carefully structured than the usual two-chord repetition that we've grown to expect. Not that there's anything wrong with the sound of bands like Spacemen 3 and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, but after several albums based on repetition, this is a pleasant, unexpected change for the Austinites.