In strictly musical terms, you simply have to give this album top marks. It contains just about every recording that could be called essential from the Wailers' Studio One era in the mid-'60s, when they were evolving (like most of their contemporaries) from the galloping ska sound that had ruled the Jamaican dancehalls for the previous five years into the slower, thicker rhythm that would come to be called rocksteady (and would later slow and thicken further into reggae). All the undisputed classics are here: "One Love" (in a souped-up ska version very different from the one Marley would record ten years later on the Exodus album), the rude boy anthems "Simmer Down" and "Let Him Go," a spectacular early version of "Dreamland" (later a signature song for Bunny Wailer), and Peter Tosh's snide "Maga Dog." There is also a previously unreleased version of "It Hurts to Be Alone," which features some impressive jazzy guitar playing by Ernest Ranglin. The only problem with this album is that almost all of the material on it has been packaged and repackaged so many times, most of them within the last ten years by the Heartbeat label itself. But if you don't own either the two-disc One Love compilation or the single-disc distillations that were released separately thereafter, this one will make an excellent introduction to one of the most significant periods in the history of reggae music's most important artist.
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AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson