Singer Wayne Smith earned himself a prominent place in the history of Jamaican popular music with his 1985 dancehall scorcher “Under Mi Sleng Teng”. Born on December 5, 1965, Wayne Smith and his five brothers and sisters grew up in Waterhouse, Kingston JA. He sang at school and at the Church of God and eventually learned electrical engineering. Because he wanted to sing, he hung around Jammy’s Sound until he got a hearing. And from the response, he was able to start making records. In 1980 he recorded his first single for Prince Jammy called “Ain’t No Me Without You”. Two years later Jammy produced Wayne Smith’s debut LP entitled “Youthman Skanking”, which was only released in the UK on the Black Joy label. The tracks for this album were recorded at Channel One and voiced at King Tubby’s.
This long sought after debut album of Wayne Smith, has now been re-pressed on its original Black Joy label by Berlin’s Buyreggae crew. On this solid album the then 17-years old singer delivers his songs in fine Waterhouse singing style, the kind of vocal style utilized by artists from the Waterhouse district such as Yami Bolo, Michael Rose, Junior Reid and Don Carlos. All tunes are underpinned by quality riddims laid by real musicians, while the mixing skills of Prince Jammy create a great sound. Side A opens with the entertaining “Solve The Situation”, followed by the outstanding “Eden Out Deh”, which is a real killer. The lover’s lament “Losing You” also makes a good impression and the same goes for “No More Will I Roam”, a cover of the Dennis Brown song. Then the A side is rounded off by “It Soon Be Done”, which turns out to be a decent piece, although not really exciting.
The wicked title track, “Youtham Skanking”, kicks off the other side of this LP. The next tune, “Take A Trip”, is a nicely done rendition of The Drifters’ 1963 hit song “On Broadway” across a heavy bass driven riddim. Another highlight on this album is the uplifting “Live Honestly” with its huge vibes. The powerful lovers tune “Ism Skism” with its hard-hitting riddim track also appeared on 12″ vinyl, paired with Yellowman’s “Rosemarie”. Great tune! Finally there’s “Ain’t No Me Without You”, not only the first recording for Jammy, but also the tune that many reggae fans who have seen UK’s Channel 4 reggae documentary Deep Roots Music remember well as Wayne Smith was filmed voicing it in King Tubby’s studio.
All in all this ‘pre-Sleng Teng’ release of Wayne Smith and Prince Jammy is worth hearing from beginning to end.