Cocoa Tea

Reggae Anthology: The Sweet Sound of Cocoa Tea

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This fine two-disc overview presents some of the best and most popular singles by legendary dancehall crooner Cocoa Tea, and as such it's also an excellent primer on the evolution of dancehall reggae in general, from the early '80s (when its harder beat was just starting to make itself felt as an alternative to the previously ascendant roots reggae sound) to the ragamuffin stylings of 2006. The program is presented chronologically, and the first disc compiles early productions by Henry "Junjo" Lawes and King Jammy (including the brilliant "Come Again," which hijacks the melody to "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"), up through such late-'80s classics as the three-way combo hit "Who She Love" (featuring Home T. and a young Shabba Ranks) and "Love Me." The second disc is even better, with top-notch rhythms from Bobby "Digital-B" Dixon and Philip "Fatis" Burrell including two brilliant cuts on the classic "Stalag 17" rhythm, the very fine "Rip & Run Off" combination track (with Cutty Ranks) and a great recut of Larry Marshall's roots classic "Mean Girl" here titled "Mr. Neck Tie Man." Cocoa Tea's voice is one of the sweetest and smoothest in reggae music and has been for more than two decades now; this set offers one of the best overviews of his work in recent memory.

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