Various Artists

Legends, Vol. 1: Reggae

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For Legends, Vol. 1, Fuel 2000 has gathered together 20 reggae tracks that will undoubtedly confuse newcomers and draw criticisms from longtime fans. There are some great names here, but certainly not a bona fide, 100 percent legendary cast. Furthermore, some of the artists who do fall into that category are represented by poor selections. Among the best are singers Delroy Wilson, Desmond Dekker, and John Holt, and DJ U Roy. There are also a handful of more obscure figures that cut genuine early reggae classics. The Slickers' "Johnny Too Bad," Eric Donaldson's "Cherry Oh Baby," and Boris Gardiner's "Elizabethan Reggae" all date from the first years of the 1970s and all were sizable hits. Other tracks that have a welcomed spot in any reggae collection include a 19-year-old Delroy Wilson's "I'm in a Dancing Mood"; "Stick by Me," a cut from John Holt's classic Time Is the Master LP; and U Roy's "Wear You to the Ball." Along with "Wake the Town" and "Rule the Nation," the latter announced the arrival of one of the music's greatest toasters. Unfortunately, while subsequent volumes in Fuel 2000's Legends series tackled specific styles (ska, dub, and ragga), Vol. 1 mixes cuts from a variety of eras with no particular rhyme or reason. The majority of the material originally surfaced during the transition from rocksteady to reggae (late '60s/early '70s) and therefore, the handful of dancehall/ragga cuts (early '80s and beyond), while fine, seem largely out of place. The result is a compilation with some great music that will probably both satisfy and frustrate.

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