Derrick Harriott

For a Fistful of Dollars

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Not a modern compilation, in fact For a Fistful of Dollars brings back into circulation the Crystalites' classic album The Undertaker, with added bonus tracks. The Crystalites were one of the best studio bands of the late-rocksteady/early-reggae years, working under a wide range of aliases. They were Lee Perry's first group of Upsetters, Leslie Kong's All Stars, Clancy Eccles' Dynamites, and on their own Gladdy's All Stars, named after their leader, pianist Gladstone "Gladdy" Anderson. For producer Derrick Harriott, they traded as The Crystalites. The band boasted a fabulously bright and melodious styling that almost single-handedly defined the early reggae age. The instrumentals on Dollars are flush with rich organ, provided by Winston Wright or Ike Bennett, with "Musical Madness," "Tonight," and "Reggae Showdown," particularly notable for their classy ivory work, while the latter number also throws the spotlight on Anderson's own skills. Harriott also made deft use of brass, with "The Undertaker's Burial" and "Sic Him Rover" boasting Val Bennett's silky sax skills, while the blazing "Lady Madonna" is a showcase for both brass and organ. As was de rigueur with instrumentals, the song titles seldom hint at the music within. The jaunty "Doctor Who," for instance, bears no relation to the TV show's theme song, although "True Grit" does feature twangyish Western-styled guitar. Bar the aforementioned "Showdown," "Madness," and the haunting "Tonight," the entire set showcases upbeat reggae that bounces from the sprightly, through the jaunty, to the outright skanking. No matter what their name, the band never ceased to please, and this set showcases their crisp rhythms, sharp guitar work, and fabulous solos and arrangements. A must for every reggae fan.

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