Gregory Isaacs

Hard Core Hits

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Hard Core Hits is an object lesson in how a poor pairing of artist and producer can lead to disaster, and should be compared with Hold Tight, released the same year, to really drive the point home. While producers Mafia & Fluxy supplied Gregory Isaacs with deep, dubby rhythms on the latter album, Elon Robinson brought in Steely & Clevie (abetted by Danny Brownie and Robbie Lyn) to lay down a clutch of totally digitized rhythms. Needless to say, the arrangements totally overwhelmed both the singer and his songs. The now de rigueur remodels are disastrous, while the rest make the listener look forward to the day they're resurrected in someone else's hands. Still, booming out of a big sound system, Hard Core Hits probably sounded great, as the digitized beats marched down the street, the electronic flourishes bounced off the walls, and Isaacs' vocals hung in the night air. However, in a living room, the singer just sounds weedy and the rhythms repetitive and intrusive. A few of the tracks do come together -- the jaunty "Madly in Love with Sharon," the throbbing, threatening "We Don't Pet Sound Boys," and, on novelty grounds alone, the remodeled "A Fe Mek a Track." "All the Stores Are Closed" may be a great song, but not in this guise, "Surrender" is entertaining, but could be stronger, and as for "Heartache," let's just say ragga-fying heartbreak is always going to end in tears. Hard Core Hits is for hardcore Isaacs fans alone, but is highly recommended for Steely & Clevie aficionados.

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