Many highlights of classic reggae and ska, but filler, too
Frank Camm | Northern Virginia | 08/16/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"CD 1. (5 stars) Includes music by Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, Scotty, Slickers, Melodians, Maytals. A solid sampler of reggae and ska from their classic period. Most songs are familiar, even if the performances are not. Most tracks are high quality. Fairly extensive notes by Perry Henzell, Chris Blackwell, others. Stand outs: tr 3--Melodians, Rivers of Babylon. Sweet, slow reggae classic. Quiet, fond memories of another place or time. Lovely. tr 4--Jimmy Cliff, Many rivers to cross. Churchy organ, Memphis soul, gospel chorus rise together above melancholy. tr 6--Jimmy Cliff, The harder they come. Rippling, sharp, quick-step strut contrasts tough singing with a spritely reggae setting. tr 10--Jimmy Cliff, Sitting in Limbo. Best of CD. Heavenly, bright gospel glows in a funky, sweetly soulful take on calypso. Hints of Sam Cook. tr 12--Jimmy Cliff, The harder they come. Tougher, more direct, simpler, and to-the-point version of the song in tr 6. [40:05]
CD 2. (3 stars) Includes music by Jimmy Cliff, Melodians, Maytals, Slickers, Desmond Dekker, Aces, Uniques, Johnny Nash, Ethiopians, Dave and Ansel Collins, Eric Donaldson, Scotty. Wide selection of reggae styles, mainly sunny even with dark bottom streams. Reminder that, as funk pushed soul aside in the States, a sweet branch of soul migrated south to Jamaica and informed reggae for many more years. CD 2 mixes a few classics, several originals that UB40 covered, and unfortunately, too much middling filler. Still, a useful document of the times (1968-72). Stand outs: tr 1--Desmond Dekker: Israelites (reggae classic unites Caribbean lilt and dark bottom). tr 5: Johnny Nash: I can see clearly now (uplifting, gospel-derived reggae classic). tr 9--Melodians: Sweet sensation (lightly strutting ska original for UB40 cover). tr 12: D&A Collins: Monkey spanner (over-the-top toaster rapper). tr 13--Maytals: 54-46 (majestic, compelling call and response with church back-up vocals). [56:53]"