Various Artists

Reggae in High-Fi

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Some listeners love to load up their iPod or CD player and hit the random button, delighting in the juxtaposition of songs and styles that burst forth in startling sequence. Others find that extremely annoying, preferring a smooth switch in sounds and gentler progression of styles that create a sumptuous coherent set. Those latter will find this compilation irritating to say the least, as it leapfrogs across the reggae spectrum, heedless of decades, subgenres or styling. Load it up, hit random, and I'll guarantee the result will be better sequenced. That said, there's no arguing with the quality of the 15 tracks nor with the star appeal of all the artists featured within. The songs are all licensed from RAS Records, the American label so instrumental in seeing roots reggae and culture through the lean years of the '80s and beyond, a musical propensity the company maintains to this day. But that isn't to suggest this is a roots comp, although two masterpieces from Peter Broggs and Jacob Miller certainly fit that category. Even the culture icons had to move with the times, and there's a dancehall-lite vibe to the majority of the music here, which on occasion moves straight into ragga territory. Considering both the label's and the artists' reputations, it's surprising, however, that the messages mostly revolve around mashing up the dancefloor, with the DJs inevitably delivering up the most massively pleasing numbers. Regardless, with such artists as Black Uhuru, Israel Vibration, and Gregory Isaacs on board, this set truly nices up the

dancehall. Magnificent music, but an odd selection nonetheless.

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