Gregory Isaacs

Mr. Cool

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For one of the acknowledged masters of lovers reggae, even an album of below-average work is still worth a listen. The aged Cool Ruler recorded this seemingly impromptu album in 1996 with very mixed results. Either some of the veteran crooner's tricks had apparently left the master here or, more likely, the Cool One was a bit worn out from his 25 odd years of the winding tour circuit. Isaacs' '70s and '80s recordings are some of the most treasured in the genre and, with so many mega-hits, even this half-hearted studio album could in no way tarnish his legendary status. Though backed throughout by the very able Firehouse Crew, there is something that just doesn't jibe between Isaacs' bellowing voice and the horns and rhythm sections. The album opens with a very off-key Isaacs on the woeful "Spend the Night" and doesn't get too much better until the fairly stellar "Rude Boy" and "Two to Make a Quarrel." Admittedly, Isaacs' work can never be taken lightly or judged properly even after ten or more listens; his voice is so expressive and his attempts at complex melodies so genuine that the album cannot fully be cast off as the work of a washed-up legend. The fact that Isaacs continued to be a road fixture in the 21st century is further testimony to his enduring talent and popularity. One mediocre album would certainly not alter his position among reggae's all-time elite royalty.

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