Gregory Isaacs

Red Rose for Gregory

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Although Isaacs released dozens of sublime singles after his international smash "Night Nurse," his copious album output meant that many of his full-lengths were less than stellar affairs, and often compilations are a safer bet. However, there are some '80s albums well worth seeking out, with Red Rose for Gregory among them. Recorded for producer Gussie Clarke, the album features Clarke's red-hot studio band with the Mighty Diamonds and J. C. Lodge handling backing vocals. Sadly, the success of "Rumours" has since overshadowed the rest of the record, but most of it is as strong, if not stronger than that hit. Clarke's signature style -- deep, reverberated bass, fat beats, and sparse musical arrangements -- delighted the dancehalls, and the openness of his sound was perfect for DJs to chatter across. It also was a treat for singers, as it allowed emotions to bleed through, and provided space to drop in backing vocals and further instrumentation as needed. Isaacs took full advantage of the opportunities presented and gifted Clarke with some of his best performances. The passionate declaration of love on "All I Need Is You," the intimacy of the title track, as the singer muses about the identity of a secret admirer, and the lovely, easy-going "Slow Down" are just some of the standouts here. And then there's the hits. "Rumours," of course, but also the tough "Rough Neck" and the stunning "Mind Yu Dis," all appear here in spectacular 12" extended mixes, alongside a promotional 12" version of "Teacher's Plight." This is truly Isaacs at the heights of his dancehall glory.

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