The Mighty Diamonds

Get Ready

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It's difficult to grasp today the extent that producer Gussie Clarke shook up the dancehalls in 1988. He barreled into the sound systems with Gregory Isaacs' hit "Rumours," then brought that rhythm to the world via J.C. Lodge's "Telephone Love"." The ragga arrangements wed to dread-fired atmospheres were a revelation, not just igniting the scene, but totally reinvigorating it.

Clarke oversaw Get Ready the same year as Rumours, although this album slightly proceeded that, but drew from the same pool of studio talent, including Sly Dunbar, Robbie Lyn, Danny Browne, Dwight Pickney, and Willie Lindo, and the sublime brass of Dean Fraser, Dave Madden and Nambo Robinson.

The majority of the set was composed by two of Clarke's own superb songwriters, Mikey Bennet and Dennis Croary, with Carlton Hines contributing a trio excellent numbers. The resulting album showcases every glittering facet of the Mighty Diamonds. Encompassing culture, love, feeling irie numbers, and ganja anthems, Get Ready is equally diverse musically, within a ragga style of course. Breezy backings, storming rhythms, tough as nail arrangements, there's even one, "Schoolmate" that is tailor made for the trio's love of American soul. This number is one of the album's stand-outs, bright and breezy, a glorious amalgamation of digitized reggae and R&B, the trio revel in the song's evocative lyrics and nostalgic theme. "My Baby" is even cheerier, with a bubbly early Seventies atmosphere soaking through the electronic beats, while "Tonight I'm Gonna Take It Easy" is as relaxed as its title, and tosses in the odd big band brass sound to the mix. At the other end of the spectrum is "Up Front," which reinvents deep roots for the modern age, and provides a timely reminder of cultural icons, while "Another Day Another Raid" is a tough cultural number wrapped in a disco driven rhythm. "Idlers' Corner" is equally heavy hitting, filled with a dread atmosphere and boasting a guesting Isaacs trading off lead vocals with Donald "Tabby" Shaw. "Sensemilla" is solid roots reggae in a dancehall, a splendid ganja anthem with an anti-hard drug message. If these are the stand-outs, the rest of the set is not far behind, while the re-issue adds two bonus tracks, both the Diamond's own composition. The evocative "Bad Boy Business" is a potent reality check for the rude boys, "Mr. Bodyguard" the 12" mix of their ragga-fied recut of their 1978 classic "Bodyguard".

The Diamonds return to the dancehalls in style, and while most singers were written off during the Eighties, this trio just continued going from strength to strength, and Get Ready finds them at a new peak.

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