Various Artists

12" Reggae Discomix Showcase, Vol.4

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The VP label's fourth trip deep into the vaults of producers Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson unearths a prime set of discomixes that will satisfy most reggae addicts, save the ones who don't care much for Trinity. Gibbs’ DJ of preference is on five of the 11 discomixes here, but as strong as his toasting is, the reason Vol. 4 succeeds is the high quality and wide variety of the main tunes. The long-lost singer Delroy Melody shines with the double-time reggae doo wop track “Natty Dread She Want,” which comes with the simple and amusing lyrics “On my way to Ochi/I met a girl named Brucie/I said she look so juicy/She say she come from Lucie.” Most Jamaican 12”s from the time documented here, 1977-1982, used the standard discomix format of the singer's tune first then a DJ version mixed onto the end, but the Dennis Brown track, “Your Man,” is an example of an instrumental dub taking the second half, and it's a sweet one at that. The odd coupling of a warm romance song from Wade Brammer and a novelty tune from Luie Lepkie is borderline reggae kitsch, but the two covers of Michael Jackson songs are most certainly not, as Tamlins member Derrick Lara puts his Junior Murvin-like falsetto to “Don't Stop Till You Get Enough,” while Ruddy Thomas' “Shake You Body Down to the Ground” offers pure joy, and features one of the few pop basslines you'll find in reggae. It's a shame that there no substantial liner notes, but the selection and the full-bodied remastering put this one in the category of “crucial.”

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