Desmond Dekker & the Aces / Desmond Dekker

Action!

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Following hot on the heels of their Jamaican debut album, 1967's 007 (Shanty Town), Desmond Dekker & the Aces were ready for Action! the following year. Like its predecessor, Action! bundled up another slew of the quintet's recent hits, as did its successor, 1969's The Israelites. All were released only in Jamaica, and the fact that "007" reappeared on the Action! set tells you just how seriously producers took the album market on the island. Even so, with its mix of rocksteady and early reggae hits, Action! has remained a popular album, and has been reissued internationally on several occasions. Now it's been paired with the equally well recycled Intensified set. In any event, taken together, it's a solid selection of songs, heavy on the hits, but that's to be expected, as virtually everything Dekker & the Aces released pre-Leslie Kong's death in 1971 was, and by and large the group's albums merely rounded them all up on long-players. There are a few odd omissions -- no "Pickney Gal," for example, or "You Can Get It If You Really Want" -- and even stranger, "Israelites" appears under the peculiar title "Poor Me Israelites." However, all self-respecting fans already have "Pickney" and "Get It" in their collections. So what's of more interest here are the less recycled numbers, like the ethereal "Fu Man Chu," the demanding "Gimme Gimme," and the indeed memorable "Unforgettable," better known as "Bongo Gal." Unlike that latter, "Gimme" and "Fu" never saw British release, and seem not to have even received proper Jamaican ones, which makes their appearance here a boon for collectors. And "My Lonely World," which features an American R&B-styled spoken word break, and the emotive "Personal Possession" rarely turn up on the reissue shelves. That said, so often has the bulk of this set appeared that many fans will have to think hard before parting with their money, but for new aficionados, this is an excellent place to start.

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