"And one of the bredren just say, 'You know, every time you laugh you look like a apple.'" And so, at age 17, Al Craig became Apple, a nickname that still leaves the singer a bit perplexed. This is just one of the many fascinating snippets of information that can be found on Apple Vibes, an album originally available only within the Power of the Trinity box set and dedicated exclusively to Craig's work with the Vibes that combines words and music to powerful effect. What marks this as an extremely special set are the insights offered by the introductions that preface each of the dozen songs and the extended interview with the singer that appears at the end. Helpfully, the sleeve notes transcribe everything and also include song lyrics and photos. So, this is more than "Apple's Greatest Hits"; this set is also an exploration of the man himself, as RAS label head Doctor Dread walks the singer through his past, his music, and his beliefs. The songs are arranged chronologically, kicking off with the anthemic unity of "We a de Rasta" from the group's second album, Unconquered People, and ending with the delicate "Solomon Bloodline," taken from Free to Move, Craig's final album with the Vibes. In between, you get ten more stunning tracks culled from across the group's studio albums, a stellar collection of cultural numbers, barbs tossed at deserving foes such as "Why You So Craven" and "Rudeboy Shufflin" (aimed at MTV and former producer Tommy Cowan, respectively), the festive "Reggae on the River," and such angry cries against injustice as "Don't Want Apartheid" and "Racial Injustice." Fans can argue about the selection (how could they leave off "Babylon by Bus"?), but with so many superb songs to choose from, inevitably somebody's favorites will be omitted. Still, with the wealth of information and music, Apple's fans will not be disappointed.
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AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene