Gregory Isaacs

Extra Classic

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Overseen by Sidney Crooks and arriving in 1973, Gregory Isaacs' debut album, All I Have Is Love, cashed in on the singer's breakout hit single of the same title. The following year, Isaacs scored his first number one with "Love Is Overdue," just one of a slew of hits he recorded for Alvin Ranglin, who produced the singer's sophomore set, In Person, as well as its follow-up, 1977's Willow Tree. (These albums arrived later, and in a different order, abroad.) During this four-year period, Isaacs flitted through the Jamaican studios like a butterfly, working with myriad producers and unleashing a deluge of singles, many of them hits. Released in 1977, Extra Classic bundled up a dozen 45s from a host of producers, including Isaacs himself, as well as Crooks, Lee Perry, Pete Weston, Lloyd Campbell, and Augustus "Gussie" Clarke. The latter oversaw Isaacs' gorgeous cover of Dobby Dobson's "Loving Pauper," just one of the exquisite romantic numbers found here. The self-produced title track is arguably even more glorious, while "Once Ago" is an equal classic. The Crooks-overseen "Dread Locks Love Affair" took romance into the Rastafarian realm, with Isaacs urging his love to ignore her weeping parents and fall for him, while the lovely "My Religion" urged the baldheads to convert. As strong as these numbers were, the cultural ones were even more potent. Whether he was warning the wicked to keep out of "Rasta Business," telling "Mr. Cop" to cool down, or pleading with his "Jailer Jailer," Isaacs' sharp lyrics and emotive performances made these all instant classics. On the Campbell-produced "Black Against Black," the singer decried the violence sweeping his nation, noting what an improvement it would be if his black brethren became "Warriors" and joined the real battle. That latter number, incidentally, was a rousing self-produced cover of a Junior Delgado song. True to its title, this set was stuffed with classic numbers, with backings provided by the likes of the Aggrovators, the Revolutionaries, the Soul Syndicate Band, and the Upsetters. A sensational set.

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