When the 20 songs heard on this 1989 compilation were recorded, reggae wasn't enjoying a great deal of support in the African-American community. But Jamaican artists were well aware of what Black Americans were up to musically, and in fact, aficionados of American soul of the time shouldn't overlook Reggae Classics. This CD spotlights some of the finest Jamaican singers of the early-to-mid-'70s, including solos artists Ken Boothe, Delroy Wilson and Pluto (a forgotten singer with a Sam Cooke-ish appeal). On earthy gems ranging from Prince Jazzbo's "School" and Nicky Thomas' "Have a Little Faith" to Lloyd Robinson's "Fire, Fire," it's hard to miss the impact American soulsters were having in Kingston. A young Dennis Brown is well represented by 1972's "Westbound Train," while the richness of dubwise (often described as Jamaica's answer to rap) is illustrated by Big Youth's "Johnny Reggae." By the '90s (and in some cases, the '80s), many of these artists would have seen their popularity fade (Brown being an obvious exception). Highly recommended, Reggae Classics shows that Bob Marley wasn't the only one making great reggae in the first half of the '70s.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson