The Skatalites

From Paris with Love

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A return album of sorts from the Skatalites, recorded in between tour dates across Europe in December 2001. While there are only two of the original members still on the roster (Lloyd Brevett and Dizzy Johnny Moore), a number of one-time players and such have joined the band in recent years for touring purposes, and here join in for the album as well. Will Clark does a good job of mimicking Don Drummond's old trombone work while still attempting to hold a bit of his own style. The jazzier guitarist Devon James works admirably with his own sound, though it doesn't fit into the whole quite the way Jah Jerry did in the past. Other players appear and disappear as necessary, including Lloyd Knibb, the creator of the one-drop hit on drums (an important development for Jamaican music). Overall, it's a pretty good album, though there are certainly other Skatalites albums that should be heard prior to this one, such as the Ball of Fire compilation. The Skatalites were and are the premier ska band throughout Jamaican music history, and their work is what led directly into reggae proper. Despite this, though, the band begins to show its age in this album, with the replacement players acting more as tribute musicians than full members in the band. There are a couple of entirely new songs here for the true collectors, so pick it up as a completist or as a crazed fan, but not as a newcomer to the Skatalites or ska in general.

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