Gregory Isaacs

Greatest Love Songs

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Gregory Isaacs has been so incredibly prolific in his career that the best way to approach his catalog is probably not through one of the many scattershot mid-price best-ofs that clutter the reggae marketplace, but rather with a more chronologically or thematically focused collection that takes the best material from a period of his career or from one of the several styles of reggae in which he excels. Obviously, Greatest Love Songs falls into the latter category, and it could hardly be a more perfect introduction to Isaacs' particular brand of cool, laid-back lovers rock. While his roots-and-culture material remains some of the best in all of reggae (note in particular the brilliant reissue of Mr. Isaacs on the Blood & Fire label), he made his name on the international stage as a crooner of heartbroken love songs, and all of the classics are here, ranging from such early material as "Love Is Overdue" and the immortal "Loving Pauper" to some of his best collaborations with the mighty Roots Radics band from the 1980s, of which "Top Ten" and "Cool Down the Pace" (presented here in an extended 10" single mix) are among the best. But highlights are hard to identify on this album, because all 18 tracks are pretty spectacular. Well, almost all of them -- "Too Good to Be True," which should have been titled "Too Bad to Be Listened To," is a schlocky experiment in quiet storm soul from 1989 that sounds like a bad Anita Baker cover. But program your CD player to skip over that one, and you've still got over 70 minutes of pure classic Isaacs. Highly recommended.

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