Various Artists

Reggae's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2

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Equally obscure as a producer and as leader of the fine harmony group the Royals, Roy Cousins nevertheless created a fair amount of significant and influential music during reggae's golden period in the mid-1970s. During that period he produced singles and albums by such important artists as Cornel Campbell, the Meditations, rocksteady heroes the Gaylads and Winston Jarett, releasing them on his own Wambesi/Tamoki imprint. In 1986, the Heartbeat label released a compilation of classic Cousins productions titled Roy Cousins Presents Wambesi All Stars; that album is reissued here at budget price as the second volume in Heartbeat's Reggae's Greatest Hits series. The material is far from disappointing, but it is rather uneven -- Charlie Chaplin's "Diet Rock" is as humorous and rhythmically compelling as you'd expect, and the Royals themselves turn in a fine rendition of "Make Believe." But Winston Jarret sounds like he's croaking from his deathbed on "Sleeping in the Park," while Earl 16's "OK My Love" is downright boring. But the highlights outnumber the disappointments. Chief among the former is "Jah Jah Give Us Love" by Cornell Campbell, who can just about always be counted on to run away with any compilation on which he's featured. (Note: this reissue adds two bonus tracks to the original 12-song program.)

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