Wayne Wonder

Inna Bashment Stylee: the Roots of an Urban Warrior

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Since acquiring the Trojan label, Sanctuary has shown great care with their single-artist compilations. The label's one-disc look at Wayne Wonder's early -- but not earliest -- years is no exception. The package is both nice to look at and meaty with information and history. The problem is, the material covered is everything between his Jamaican breakthrough single ("Never Gonna Give You Up," a cover of the Rick Astley hit) and his worldwide breakthrough ("No Letting Go"). During this time, the cool crooner's output was plagued by under-produced ragga, thin and overly precious love songs, and oddball pop covers that are only worth one campy listen. Despite all this bad news, Inna Bashment Style is worth a look for the hardcore reggae fan, since it rounds up some thrilling moments that haven't been packaged properly before. Wonder's smooth take on "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" is near perfect. Plus, Sanctuary unearths the fun DJ version of the track ("Come Mi Darling") in the label's usual completist fashion. It's easy to see why the bouncy "One More Chance" had Kingston dancing, and the bizarre "You Me and She" is worth hearing as Wonder introduces his wife to his mistress in an effort to create a pleasant and cordial love triangle. The way-too-short "The Ruler" is the other example of how well Wonder works with dancehall DJs -- Buju Banton in this case -- but from here it's a couple curios and then nothing but the faceless. Pop fans will find the rickety covers of Alphaville's "Forever Young" and Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me" cute for a listen, and reggae historians will appreciate the deep liner notes, but casual reggae fans will find little of interest.

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