With 'Uptown Top Ranking' 17 North Parade/VP Records didn't have the intention to release yet another 'Greatest Hits' compilation by Byron Lee and his Dragonaires, but instead wanted to draw attention to some lesser known and even forgotten gems from Byron's rich oeuvre. Back in the day Lee's music was considered "uptown", intended for an audience of white tourists and upper-class Jamaicans, and it's also this myth VP Records wanted to denounce with this compilation. In the very extensive and most interesting liner notes accompanying the album Harry Wise comments as follows: "There are usually more than two sides to every Jamaican record: keeping it real or selling out, uptown and downtown, dreadlocks and baldheads, society and sufferers, authenticity and commercialism. But it is never black and white, never ever that straightforward and, the closer its history is examined, the more complex and contradictory the narrative becomes. The initial two sides become increasingly multifaceted when recounting the particularly Jamaican success story of the inexorable rise of Byron Lee & The Dragonaires.". The story behind the name of Lee's backing band, The Dragonaires, is something we didn't want to keep from you. Lee apparently attended St. George's College in Kingston where he was a member of the school football team The Dragons (the name of course referring to St. George & The Dragon). Ronnie Nasralla, one of his teammates, as a percussionist would remain at Byron Lee's side for years to come. In addition to his activities as a performer - Byron Lee & The Dragonaires would remain active for close to five decades - Lee was also worked as a producer and was the owner of Dynamic Sounds Recording Company Limited (successor to Edward Seaga's West Indian Records Limited or WIRL), a studio that in the 1970s, even started to have a reputation with British artists like Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Elton John and The Rolling Stones, but also American greats like Paul Simon or Stevie Wonder. 'Uptown Top Ranking' includes 'Dumplin's', a ska version of the 1957 song by Ernie Freeman and in 1960 Byron Lee & The Dragonaires' very first single, 'Hot Reggay', an early reggae song from 1970, and songs like 'From Russia With Love' and 'Goldfinger', referring to Byron Lee & The Dragonaires' cameo in 'Dr. No' , the first James Bond film adaptation from 1962! 'Uptown Top Ranking' offers a great window into the multitude of genres - cha-cha-cha, ska, reggae, soca... - Byron Lee made his own during his career. We'll end this review appropriately with the words Prime Minister Bruce Golding spoke following the death of Byron Lee on November 4th, 2008: "Jamaica, and indeed the world, has lost another great music pioneer with the passing this morning of Byron Lee one of the greatest band leaders ever to grace the entertainment stages of the world."