Various Artists

Firehouse Crew

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The Firehouse Crew is a studio and touring band consisting of drummer George Miller, bassist Danny Dennis, and keyboardist Paul Crosdale. They may not be a team as famous as Sly & Robbie or Steely & Clevie, but they've had significant success in Jamaica since being installed as King Tubby's studio band in 1986. This excellent compilation finds them playing behind some of the best singers on the current reggae scene -- everyone from elder statesmen like Michael Rose and Fred Locks to young upstarts Sizzla and Luciano. The Crew's sound is a nice fusion of up-to-the-minute computer beats and organic old-school reggae grooves. Highlights here include "Life" by crooner Red Rose, Jah Cure's "Chant" (which is followed by Sizzla chanting expertly over the dub version), and the rockish "Red Hot" by Mikey General. Skip the Half Pint track -- he still hasn't figured out how to sing in tune. But everything else is well worth hearing.