Various Artists

Sounds & Pressure, Vol. 2

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This early compilation of upcoming attractions on Adrian Maxwell Sherwood's roots reggae label Pressure Sounds is a solid, albeit spotty collection of the rare Jamaican and U.K. tracks the label specializes in. The tracks are rarities, but it's prime-time roots reggae with names like Sly & Robbie, Carlton "Santa" Davis, and Aston "Family Man" Barrett laying down some formative grooves. On the vocal front, there are different versions of two Mighty Diamonds classics ("Poor Marcus," and "Shame and Pride"), and unknowns -- except to Jamaican music fanatics like Morwell Esquire (from which sprang Bingy Bunny and formed Roots Radics) with a dub explosion extending "In God We Trust." "In Time to Come" by the equally collector-worthy Earth & Stone is a steady rolling up-tempo groove with underpinning from Sly Dunbar showing off the militant rockers riddim he pioneered. Dub is represented by Lee Perry/the Upsetters' "Shepherd and Rod" (praised to the skies in the liners, but not that great or even radically dubbed out), and a couple bearing Prince Far I's name. "Who Have Eyes to See," with singer Mike Brooks, is solid enough but "The Right Way" is better, a heavily dubbed melodica instrumental by the Arabs that's more a tribute, and also an early Sherwood production. While the trombone instrumental by Don D Junior (aka Vin Gordon) is solid enough, "Jestering" by Shorty the President and Enos McLeod is an example of early toasting that really didn't need resurrection. "I'll Go Through," from the first Israel Vibration LP, is okay but nothing special, much like the group itself. One drawback to Sounds & Pressure, Vol. 2 is its 35-minute length -- it's clearly a vinyl LP reissued on CD with no extra tracks. The second drawback is that the tracks probably work better in the context of full releases than in the grab-bag stylee here. As a compilation, it's not bad, with some very valuable performances, but 100 percent crucial it ain't.