Probably the best reggae/dub compilation existing today, Wackies Sampler Vol. 1 was an extremely rare and somewhat underrated album. The entire album, comprised primarily of heavy vocals and dubs from 12″ releases, is characterized by the now-famous “Wackies sound,” a sound that I have defined as “dank.” This album was brought back into light 10 years ago when a German outfit called Basic Channel/Rhythm & Sound started repressing the Wackies catalogue to vinyl. Now, it is truly appreciated as a sound and vibe that represents a time and place called Wackies.
“Wackies Sampler, Vol. 1 highlights some of the excellent yet relatively unknown dub reggae recordings released during the early ’80s by producer Lloyd “Bullwackie” Barnes on his Bronx-based Wackies label. Barnes maintained a busy studio in the Bronx for a few years and recorded a large ensemble of vocalists who comprised a loose collective known as the Wackies. These recordings showcased Barnes’ cutting-edge dub production as much as they did the Wackies’ vocals, and it’s indeed the production that seems most remarkable in perspective. It’s no coincidence then that the Berlin-based techno label Basic Channel reissued these recordings. In many ways, Barnes’ production pointed toward the bass-heavy rhythms and effects-laden mixing that would define techno, particularly the dub-techno strain exemplified masterfully by the Basic Channel offshoot Rhythm & Sound. The vocal performances here are just as noteworthy, sung by a dazzling group of vocalists, most of them roots-style male crooners: Junior Delahaye, Wayne Jarrett, Horace Andy, and Sugar Minott, except for the Love Joys: a standout female duo who are showcased three times (“All I Can Say,” “Jah Light,” and “Gimme Back, Pt. 1,” all of which are album highlights). There are also a few instrumental dubs here (culled from the Natures Dub, Jamaica Super Dub Session, and African Roots albums), which help this album flow better, functioning somewhat as interludes. The 18-track album plays overall like a DJ mix because the vocalists shuffle from one song to the next, yet the production remains consistent throughout. Wackies Sampler, Vol. 1 is an excellent introduction to the collective’s catalog, functioning equally well as a best-of sampler or DJ-style mix.”