Judge Dread

Early Years

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An excellent overview of Judge Dread's oeuvre, stuffed with 18 tracks. The album is arranged chronologically, and thus it kicks off with the hat trick of hits from 1972, Dread's debut, "Big Six," immediately followed by "Big Seven" and "Big Eight." "Big Nine" and "Big Ten" also pop up, although the intermediary numbers and the final two ruler busting singles, "Big Eleven" and "Big Twelve," do not. Not that that matters -- only the first three and "Big Ten" were actually hits. Other winning numbers include the exuberant "Y'Viva Suspenders," the hilarious cover of "Je T'aime," and the barnyard braying of "Up With the Cock." The compilation also includes a clutch of equally risible B-sides, with the rootsy "Mind the Doors" and "Look a Pussy" of particular note. Just as subversive is a twisted cover of Mike Sarne's U.K. chart-topping "Come Outside." Beyond the suggestive lyrics and nursery rhymes, Judge Dread delivered up some of the most authentic-sounding Jamaican reggae the U.K. ever produced. Unknowing listeners often assume he's of West Indian background; he wasn't, which makes his music all the more delicious.

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