Various Artists

Adrian Sherwood Presents: The Master Recordings, Vol. 2

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The second installment in On-U's super-budget-priced compilation series is just as good as the first, though given the catalog with which its compilers had to work, that shouldn't be any surprise. It's not that everyone will love the music itself -- Adrian Sherwood's willfully perverse production style has made his On-U Sound label a great polarizer in reggae circles, where it is supported with cultish devotion by some and determinedly ignored by others -- but this album and its companion volume are great, inexpensive ways of finding out whether you want to go to the considerable effort sometimes required to get your hands on On-U Sound releases (especially in the U.S., a market which Sherwood has expressed little serious interest in penetrating). Volume 2 features performances by all of the usual On-U suspects: charter denizens Creation Rebel and New Age Steppers, Dub Syndicate (in collaboration with Lee "Scratch" Perry on one of his most frightening compositions), Noah House of Dread (also known as African Head Charge), and Singers & Players. Highlights include the excellent "Disconnection" by Strange Parcels and "Wanna-Na-Dub" by Audio Active, a rather inscrutable Japanese reggae ensemble. Highly recommended.

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