Various Artists

Classic Reggae, Vol. 1

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When Profile was preparing to release Classic Reggae, Vol. 1 in 1992, the question was: "Just how classic? Are we going all the way back to the Paragons, Desmond Dekker and other reggae greats who started out in the '60s?" But the collection doesn't go that far back -- its main focus is reggae singing of the late '70s and early to mid '80s, and Profile's choices are excellent. Johnny Osborne's quirky "Buddy Bye," Dillinger's "Cocaine in my Brain" and Rita Marley's controversial 1982 hit, "One Draw," are indeed reggae classics. "One Draw" manages to be catchy, funny and troubling at the same time -- the part of the song in which a Rastawoman school teacher shows children the "proper" way to smoke sinsemilla really is funny even though the very thought of a teacher doing such a thing is appalling. Meanwhile, the word "classic" also describes Dennis Brown's "Sitting and Watching," Tyrone Taylor's "Cottage in Negril" and Gregory Isaacs' "Soon Forward," all of which anyone with a taste for smooth, '70s, northern soul can appreciate. Without question, this was among the best reggae compilations of 1992.

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