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You Can Get It If You Really Want: The Definitive
Desmond Dekker
You Can Get It If You Really Want: The Definitive
Genres: Alternative Rock, World Music, Pop
  •  Track Listings (31) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (28) - Disc #2


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CD Details

All Artists: Desmond Dekker
Title: You Can Get It If You Really Want: The Definitive
Members Wishing: 5
Total Copies: 0
Label: Sanctuary Records
Release Date: 4/26/2005
Album Type: Original recording remastered
Genres: Alternative Rock, World Music, Pop
Styles: Ska, Reggae
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 060768052222

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CD Reviews

You really want to get it
Peter Reeve | Thousand Oaks, CA USA | 09/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ska was a Jamaican musical style that evolved from an amalgam of native Calypso and American R&B in the late 1950s/early 60s. It developed into Rocksteady, Reggae and a host of other variations since. We often overlook how influential these Jamaican styles have been on American and British music. In December, 2005, I took my teenage daughter to a Skafest in Chicago and was amazed at how a packed crowd of Goths, Punks, Emos, et al, responded enthusiastically to all these styles, including some pure Calypso that Harry Belafonte might have recorded back in the 50s!

It was Dekker who introduced Ska to the outside world. Fellow Jamaican Bob Marley became a bigger star, but Dekker was the trailblazer. He is the 'Desmond' referred to in The Beatles' 1968 Ob-La-di, Ob-La-da. His music continued to develop and he enjoyed considerable success in the UK. Classic, must-hear songs are: Honor Your Father and Your Mother, You Can Get it if You Really Want, Israelites and It Mek. His biggest hit was Israelites.

There was a darker side. The Rude Boy culture that emerged in 60s Jamaica was often very violent. Dekker celebrates and glamorizes this in songs like 007 (Shanty Town), Rudy Got Soul and Rude Boy Train. In Britain, these songs were taken up by the Mod gangs, and later by Skinheads. How justified I am in saying he celebrates gang violence, rather than just makes music, is up to each individual listener to decide.

If you buy just one Dekker album, this comprehensive and truly definitive compilation is the one to get. It has 2 discs (59 tracks), good insert notes, a sleeve, and is reasonably priced. It is a fitting tribute to the singer, who died in May, 2006.

Music like dirt
Red Eyes | 12/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"It can be tempting for the more serious, long term reggae listener to pigeonhole Dekker as solely representing "popular" or chart reggae -- but that would be a serious error, as the best tracks on this compilation show.

"Wise Man" has a Gladiators at Studio One sound to it, with its lyric concerning encouragement of wisdom as opposed to following a rude boy lifestyle. "Sabotage" and "Pretty Africa" are also slightly reminiscent of the very early Gladiators style.

"Honour Your Father" teaches filial respect over a booming ska rhythm, whilst "Parents" conversely, with its beautiful doo wop harmonies and cajun like shuffle, encourages parents to return that respect to their offspring.

"Labour for Learning" has a spirtual aspect -- "Labour for learning before you grow old, for that is better than silver and gold" Dekker chants, then, echoing Psalms, Proverbs and Solomonic sentiment, "silver and gold will vanish away, but education shall never decay." A beautiful jazz horns refrain (Cedric 'Im Brooks? Roland Alphonso?) follows.

"Jeserine" and "King of Ska" are amphetamine speed rudeboy rock, with an almost 60's garage feel.

"This Woman" has a deeply hypnotic groove and an offbeat bass boom which could compete with contemporary steppers tunes or JB's style funk workouts. A Don Drummond/Skatalites style horns leads the piece.

"Mount Zion" sounds like South Africa township jazz circa 1965, whilst the rude "Soldering" is a tune versioned later on Big Youth's "Dreadlocks Dread". "It's A Shame" has a loping b line reminiscent of Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker tunes.

The second CD is not as consistent as the first since some tracks have a schmaltzy string section sounding like Lou Rawls or the softer side of John Holt. Still, there are some unmissable tracks such as the spiritual, driven force of "Warlock/Freedom Train", sounding like a precursor to Dennis Brown's "Emmanuel" and The Ethiopians/Coxsonne's "Slave in a Babylon". Rough reality music, with a vocal from the heart.

Also, check out the agressively claustrophobic nihilism of "First Time" with its sullen resentful lyric : "I work so hard but what do I get, the little that I do get makes me fret. For the first time in a long time, I feel miserable all over." Anachronistically, the dark pessemism of the nervous narrative is contrasted with an uplifting ska beat.

This double CD is certainly patchy in places and does contain some filler, as well as tracks so familiar as to render their inclusion inevitable, yet pointless --But that is hardly surprising since it covers a period spanning some 35 years, and collects nearly 60 tracks. Also, arguably, the "populist" cover versions and 90's tracks don't really work.

The best tracks however, are a contuining example of how Sanctuary has revitalised the flagging fortunes of Trojan over the past two years, compiling some of the most exciting music available by digging through Trojan's dusty vaults as well as buying up the rights to more obscure labels -- as represented by the unrivalled "Haul and Pull Up" and Tappa Zukie "Stars" releases.

Intensified -- Music like dirt. For sure."
King of Ska, Pioneer of Reggae
Caesar M. Warrington | Lansdowne, PA United States | 07/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"To You, the Browser:

Shopping around for a Desmond Dekker compilation? Well, you've arrived at the right one. Forget all those other Dekker "Best Ofs" & "Greatest Hits," and go with this instead. Spanning the years 1963-1993 with 59 cuts on 2 CDs, YOU CAN GET IT IF YOU REALLY WANT: THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION might be a few dollars more, but it's worth it.

The collection starts off with 1963's "Honour Your Mother and Father," a hit single that set the pace for an 8-year-long relationship between Dekker and legendary reggae producer Leslie Kong, which lasted until the latter's untimely death in 1971. Under Kong, Dekker would carry the raucous ska sound into the smoother grooves of rocksteady, pioneering what we now call reggae.

Disc 1 contains almost all of Desmond's best known songs: the aforementioned "Honour..." (and its followup, "Parents"), along with "It Mek," "Beautiful and Dangerous," and "Problems." Included also are two songs, "Rudy Got Soul" and "Rude Boy Train," celebrating Jamaica's rude boys, a sharp but often violent Jamaican youth culture who were to play a major influence (for good and bad) on the style and attitude of Britain's nascent skinhead subculture. And, of course, nobody here's forgotten Dekker's 1967 UK Top 20 hit, "007 (Shanty Town)," or 1968's "Israelites," a bonafide, transatlantic smash that made the US Top 10, introducing Americans to modern reggae long before Bob Marley. A cover/medley of the Beatles' "Ob-La-di, Ob-La-da," closes out this first disc. This song is especially noteworthy because its lyrics reference Dekker (he's the "Desmond" they're singing about). Dekker's cover returns the honor and respect back to Lennon and McCartney.

The second disc begins with 1970's fabulous "Pickney Gal," followed by "Generosity," "Perseverance," and a Jimmy Cliff original--which Dekker would make his own, "You Can Get It If You Really Want." Tracks 19-28 are all post-Kong, with production credits going to Bruce White and Tony Cousins, Will Birch, Roger Lomas, Robert Palmer, Delroy Wilson and Desmond himself.

YOU CAN GET IT IF YOU REALLY WANT certainly isn't a complete collection (you rarely see such things... even with box sets). With any collection one always finds something missing. For instance, both "Writing on the Wall" and "Bongo Gal" should've been included, in my opinion. However, it is an excellent and definitive overview; not perfect--but damn close to it."