Various Artists

Reggae Refreshers, Vol. 2

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In the early 1990s, when England's scrappy Blood & Fire label proved that there was a market for high-quality reissues of classic roots reggae, one of the pleasant by-products of its success was the flattery-by-imitation syndrome. All of a sudden big labels that had deep (and often neglected) reggae catalogs started putting out reissues with packaging that bore a suspicious resemblance to Blood & Fire's signature designs and that featured similarly generous programs of original track lists with B-sides and dub versions added. Island's two-volume Reggae Refreshers series was one of these, and it's a great showcase of that label's exquisite reggae vault. The second of the two discs features some of the usual suspects -- the Heptones ("Mr. President"), Black Uhuru ("Botanical Roots"), and Burning Spear ("Invasion") -- but it also resurrects some rarer material, including Faybiene Miranda's "Prophecy" (in a nice 12" mix), the Upsetters' "Croaking Lizard" (with Prince Jazzbo), and the exquisite "Fade Away" by Junior Byles. Anyone looking for a good overview of serious roots reggae need look no further.

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