Dr. Alimantado's rise to renown really began with Greensleeves release of his superb 1977 Best Dressed Chicken in Town album. By that time, the good Doctor had been recording for a decade, although only a handful of his early singles were granted a foreign release, until now. It took almost a decade to bring House of Singles to fruition, but it was well worth the wait, as Alimantado finally brings to CD a slew of his especially rare 45s. The time was put to good use, for rarely has a reggae record been so stuffed with information. Working from Alimantado's copious recollections, author David Katz pens a riveting biography that traces the artist's family back to his father's African roots, reveals in chilling detail Alimantado's abused and neglected childhood, and follows him into adulthood through his myriad jobs prior to finding fame at the mic.
Along the way, Katz carefully annotates every song on the set, identifying the riddims, recording details, and including Alimantado's memories as well. Katz brings the artist's story bang up to date before he's done, and there's a particular poignancy to the anecdotes involving the DJ's long search for the music contained within. A second set is planned, and fans owning clean 7" or 12" copies of his other early singles are urged to contact the DJ via Greensleeves. The 16 songs here are arranged chronologically, allowing listeners to trace Alimantado's progress, hear his many early influences, and celebrate his vocal talent and diversity. The exuberant opener "No Gwan Soh," the straight from the heart "Blessed Is the Land Africa," the witty "Mary Lou," the reverberating "Ride on Brother," the rollicking "One Trouble," the pertinent "Teach the Children," the urgent "Revenge," and the vengeful "Rasta Train (Step It Outta Babylon)" are all standouts. The phenomenal "Reggae Music (Dis A)" is worth the price of admission alone.
And while this album will not take the place of a best-of compilation, it deserves pride of place in every reggae collection regardless. It's a simply superb set.