Fans of Rafter Roberts no doubt got used to him cranking out at least one album of cheerfully quirky, super catchy, oddball pop a year. Starting in 2007 with Music for Total Chickens, Rafter issued one reliably unreliable record after another, with an excellent collaboration with Simian Mobile Disco's Simon Lord under the name Roberts & Lord ending the string in 2011. But while he may not have been releasing anything, Roberts was toiling away like a mad genius working on a wide variety of projects. The first to see the light of day is It's Reggae, which may sound like the kind of joke title Roberts has used in the past. (2011's Quiet Storm was not a collection of late-night R&B love jams, for example.) The album is straight-up instrumental reggae through and through, filtered through Rafter's lo-fi, weirdo sensibilities, all while sounding like something right off a Trojan Records sampler. Everyone from Lee Perry to King Tubby, and even more modern producers like Steely & Clevie, would be impressed by the sounds he conjures up on the record. Mixing up tracks that have a dread-tough, mid-'70s approach ("Spy Boat to Milan," "Convertible Jeep"), a goofier, almost novelty-like sound ("Christina 1981"), and a slow-moving, dubbed-out strut ("Road to Hana") to get a wide variety of moods and feels, Roberts has crafted a loving tribute to reggae that is steadfastly true to its roots, yet still has plenty of his personality and loads of originality. And lots of really sticky melodies that are warmer than sunshine. The record could have just been a cornball rip-off, but it sounds like Rafter really spent time researching reggae; spent time getting the sounds right, and ended up making something that both hardcore reggae fans and Rafter followers can both appreciate.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra