Various Artists

Reggae's Greatest Hits, Vol. 10

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Heartbeat's Reggae's Greatest Hits series is an interesting one because each volume throws light on the producer rather than the artist, and in Jamaica, where the producer is often a bigger celebrity than the singer, it's almost a more sensible way to navigate through the tangle of releases, versions, dubs, and do-over mixes that characterize and drive the island's dancehall and pop music industry. This tenth volume focuses on the production work of Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson, and not surprisingly, given Gibbs' involvement, it is the vocal end of things that leaps out and shines. Glen Washington's "Rockers" is bright and easy, full of a kind of unsaid joy, while Junior Byles turns "Heart and Soul" into a gorgeous bit of wry wisdom. Peter Tosh's infectious "Maga Dog" is another highlight, as is "Ghetto Living," which features the Mighty Diamonds delivering their trademark ethereal and heartbreakingly beautiful harmonies. It's a nice series, and this installment is yet another interesting and revealing look at the mad professors who sit behind the curtain and operate the levers, knobs, and faders of Jamaican pop music.

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