Crucial Times

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Sizzla’s massive discography has more than its fair share of suspicious releases, most of which drive away new listeners with sub-par material and poor documentation. Crucial Times suffers from the latter in that there are no track by track credits -- although there is an excellent essay -- but the material is top-notch, all of it pulled from the Grove Road vaults of producer Homer Harris and much of it unheard. Given the one-two opening punch of “Precious Gift” and “Crucial Time,” the album could easily be mistaken for one of Sizzla’s official releases if it wasn’t for the fact that the sound field changes significantly between the two tracks, signaling that they come from different studios and different time periods. Speaking of time periods, the liner notes claim “Foundation” is from the first time the singer stepped into the studio, and supports the argument with a picture of a 15 year-old Sizzla on his way to school. Other highlights come from what are obviously later years, as the smooth and modern “Jolly Good Time” flows like a Third World or Maxi Priest tune, while “Sufferation and Poverty” uses a jungle/drum'n'bass beat for a futuristic ragga experience. More info and this collection would be a revelation, but as it is, it’s a welcome surprise and should have all Sizzla fans wondering what other undiscovered gems this Bobo Dread has lost to the vaults.

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