Pato Banton

The Best of Pato Banton [EMI-Capitol]

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Birmingham, England native Pato Banton (born Patrick Murray) was mentored by the English Beat's Ranking Roger, and actually made his debut guesting on Special Beat Service. But it's as a solo artist he's made his particular mark, with a chirpy mix of consciousness and humor that's both disarming and attractive, combining patois (or "patwa" as he calls it) and English. "Never Give In," the title of his first album, helped establish his reputation as a toaster, then the hilarious "Don't Sniff Coke," with its none-too-subtle message, proved to be a perfect follow-up, while "Gwarn!" showed that he truly did possess toasting skills, moving at hyper speed through the lyrics in a manner to which other dancehall wannabes could only aspire. "Pato And Roger Come Again" brings his mentor back to record, with Banton giving appropriate props, but after that he turned to a smoother pop-reggae sound, and a more conscious, spiritual outlook, typified on "One World (Not Three)" and "Stay Positive," which comes across as almost a self-help manual with an off beat accent. His take on the Police's "Spirits In The Material World" (from the album Wize Up!) became something of an alternative radio hit, returning the bland white reggae to its black roots. While this stands as a good collection -- it's impossible to fault the tracks -- it wouldn't have hurt to add a few more, such as "Ready Me Ready" or "Wize Up!"

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