Various Artists

Best of Ska [Disky]

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The Best of Ska from Master Tone is a handy midpriced collection featuring high-quality masterings of various 1960s-vintage standards, including "007 Shanty Town," "Oh Carolina," and "Rucumbine" by Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, "Carry Go Bring Home" by Justin Hinds & the Dominoes, "Wings of a Dove" by the Blues Busters, "Easy Snapping" and "Train to Skaville" by Derrick Morgan, "Elizabethan Reggae" by Boris Gardiner, and "Phoenix City" by Rockers Express. "Elizabethan Reggae" doesn't sound Elizabethan so much as like Europop in inspiration, like Bert Kaempfert with a Caribbean beat. "Easy Snapping" is a delightfully bluesy dance number with a beautifully restrained horn accompaniment. The Byron Lee tracks are the best sounding on a pretty impressive collection, "007 Shanty Town" practically putting the rhythm guitar and bass in your lap and offering a gorgeous falsetto lead vocal, while "Oh Carolina" does the same for the exquisite percussion. Nora Dean and Dawn Penn represent the fairer sex, the former with the chant-like "O Mama" (which has some mastering noise, the only place on this CD where this is an issue) and the latter with the exquisitely sung, soul-drenched "I Let You Go Boy." And "Liberation Ska" by Calvin Cameron of the Skatalites and Byron Lee's "Rucumbine" represent the instrumental side of ska.

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