Various Artists

Jah Warrior Showcase, Vol. 2

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In 1970s Jamaica, a "showcase" album was one in which vocal versions were presented along with their dub versions, usually one right after the other (though occasionally the first half of the album would consist of the vocal versions, while the second half presented dub mixes in the same order). The second various-artists collection from the excellent British Jah Warrior label harks back to those days not only by virtue of its format, but also in the artists presented, all but one of whom got their start during reggae's 1970s heyday. Of the six, two (Anthony Johnson and Winston McAnuff) have remained relatively obscure, two (Prince Alla and Alton Ellis) are legends, and two (Earl Sixteen and Prezident Brown) are somewhere in between. All of them deliver creditable performances on this collection, and several tracks are excellent: Prince Alla opens the program powerfully with the roots-and-rockers admonition "Be Careful"; Winston McAnuff's jailhouse lament "Tense Pon a Bench" hits the intersection of self-pity and righteous pride just right; and perhaps best of all is Alton Ellis' smooth sufferer's anthem "Here I Stay." The dub versions are very good, though acoustic drums would have been a distinct improvement over the sometimes overpowering digital ones throughout the program. Recommended.

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