Sugar Minott

Herbman Hustling

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Sugar Minott is one of the true renaissance men of reggae -- equally accomplished as a producer and a singer, he is also a successful promoter and record label owner and has run his own reggae sound system. Herbman Hustling showcases his sweet singing style and the gently rocking dancehall groove that he alone creates. The title cut, with its minimalist bassline and computerized drums, is one of the most compelling dance tracks ever committed to vinyl, but most of the songs collected here feature a full band and the lyrics are fairly equally divided between dancehall boasts, loverman come-ons and cultural concerns -- "Give Jah the Key" and a lovely reggae version of "Rock of Ages" cross the line into explicit religious proselyting. The sufferer's anthem "Hard Time Pressure" is presented in an extended version with toasting by Captain Sinbad; elsewhere, Minott updates the Desmond Dekker classic "It Mek" with "Palavin Spree." The band, which includes such luminaries as bassist Robbie Shakespeare and drummer Horsemouth Wallace, rumbles and percolates in perfect accompaniment to Minott's crooning delivery. The only complaint is a slightly saturated vocal sound on some of the tracks -- a surprising defect given the caliber of producers involved.

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