Gregory Isaacs

Looking Back

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Nice idea this - with all the multitude of Gregory Isaacs' compilations weighing down the shelves, have the singer pick his own favorites. Quite a task for an artist so prolific, and with so many hundreds of songs to sift through why did the singer settle on these 14? Who knows, for sadly the sleevenotes offer no illumination at all.

Sure Isaacs' cover of The Uniques' "My Conversation" is masterful, but why amongst his many masterpieces is it a personal favorite? Does the artist really consider "Silver Bird" one of his best recordings? Come on...better than "Lonely Lover", "Soon Forward" or "Mr. Brown"? Does he really believe that

his take on "Sinner Man" is superior to "Help Us Get Over", "Storm" or "Poor and Clean".

It's not a matter of disagreeing with his choices, everything within this set is a classic, but inevitably yearn to hear his reasoning. For this comp to really stand apart from the pack, annotation is needed, not just another pocket bio of the artist.

So no explanations, no release dates, no backing bands listed, but at least the producers are credited, so we can attempt to work out the rest for ourselves. However, all that aside, this is a sublime selection of Isaac's music from the Seventies. The star obviously put some thought into the track list, deliberately showcasing both his cultural and loverman sides, and while there's numerous hits included, many of these songs have not been recycled to death yet.

The resultant set cuts a broad swathe through his early career, from lighter, but oh so impassioned, pop covers to the deepest of roots numbers. Initially this album was to be titled Personal Best, but someone must have pointed out a single disc couldn't encompass that, and so Looking Back gazes out at a pool of premier songs, siphoned from the vaster ocean he has gifted to the world.

blue highlight denotes track pick