Junior Reid & The Bloods

Junior Reid & the Bloods

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Junior Reid & the Bloods bundles up ten recent Jamaican combination singles, all self-produced, and most unleashed on Reid's own label, with a host of DJs and a few singers. Some songs will already be familiar: the heavy hitting "Cry Now" turned up on Reid's Visa album, as did "Dance Nah Keep Again," where the artist is joined by Dennis Brown, who reappeared with Gregory Isaacs for "Not a One Man Thing," a stellar number that was also featured on both singer's own solo albums. Regardless, all three numbers are strong enough to demand inclusion here. Inevitably, with the large roster of artists, Bloods is a varied set, but careful sequencing creates an album feel, quite a trick considering the breadth of themes and moods within, albeit all within sizzling dancehall stylees. Reid is at his best within a cultural context, and "Gun No Have Sense" with Captain Thunder is one of the most powerful on the set, as the two men damn the proliferation of weapons around the world. Equally superb is "Burning Down," where Reid joins forces with Michael Rose for a simmering roots classic. And with "Rasta Soldiers on Guard," it won't be long before "Babylon Fall," at which time everyone will be singing the Ethiopian "Anthem" along with Reid and Bitter Roots, a song true to its title. At which point the "World Gone Reggae," although whether the planet will then fall under the spell of a cartoon toaster like Snaggapuss is still to be seen. "Dance F. Gwan" is an equally jubilant celebration of the dancehall, with Ricky General a less supercilious leader. With the supercharged rhythms laid down by Reid's own One Blood Band, Squidley Cole, Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace, Cleevie Brown, Chris Meredith, the singularly named Axeman, Danny Brownie, et al, the backings are militant, rousing, and extraordinarily effective. Reid continues to storm the dancehalls, alone and as here, in tandem.

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