Derrick Morgan

Do the Beng Beng: Classic Rock Steady Sounds

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Reggae legend Derrick Morgan was at the peak of his powers in the late 1960s, when the light, sassy sound of ska was slowing and thickening into rocksteady, and when he made these recordings at the Beverley's recording studio with the backing of Lyn Taitt and the Jets. The sound quality on these 16 tracks is impressively high, and it almost goes without saying that the performances are excellent as well. The program opens with three variations on what was already a well-worn Judge Dread theme, in which a repetitive backing track churns out a rocksteady beat while the good judge finds an impertinent Rude Boy guilty of various minor crimes and sentences him to several hundred years in prison. Those songs are always fun (if usually a bit overlong), but the album really hits its peak with the gently remonstrative "No Dice," the celebratory "Ben Johnson Day" and, especially, the sonically bizarre "Want More," which features the creepiest background vocals ever recorded outside of Lee "Scratch" Perry's Black Ark studio. Also noteworthy are several duet tracks Morgan recorded with Patsy Todd, and the classic sufferer's anthem "Time Hard." A must for all fans of early reggae.