Comprised of tracks from his Soon Forward and Cool Ruler albums on Virgin, Crucial Cuts spotlights Isaacs in his prime, late-'70s reggae mode. Even though more popular dancehall-era triumphs like his early-'80s hit "Night Nurse" tend to garner most of the attention, these ten cuts offer enough highlights to be a worthy part of any Isaacs collection. Most likely supported by the Aggrovators, Roots Radics, and Sly and Robbie's band (all three of which share many of the same musicians), Isaacs plies his smooth, "lonely lover" vocal delivery on classics like "John Public," "Slave Market," and "Soon Forward," sticking to his usual lyrical mix of both cultural and dancehall themes. Featuring plenty of tasty horn charts, bubbly organ work, and even some dub excursions on "Uncle Joe/Come Off Me Toe" and "Soon Forward," Crucial Cuts makes for a fine showcase of Isaacs' very individual and enduring vocal talents. Although not in print, this album still crops up in used record bins; recommendations on the CD front include the expanded, re-release version of Cool Ruler and later titles like More Gregory.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook