Ansel Collins / Sly & Robbie

Jamaican Gold

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The German reissue label Moll-Selekta compiled this batch of songs over 20 years after Ansel Collins put them to tape at the legendary Channel One studio in Kingston with the Revolutionaries, a band featuring Sly & Robbie. At the time Collins recorded these 15 songs in 1979, he was at an artistic peak, and it certainly didn't hurt that he was working with Sly & Robbie at Channel One while they too were at a peak. Once you consider these two factors, you can see why Moll-Selekta went out of its way to compile these previously unreleased songs, about half of which feature vocals, and about half of those featuring Collins on vocals. Yet the music itself is what's so precious about these songs rather than the vocals: Robbie drives each song with his unmistakable basslines and Collins colors each with his keyboards. Sure, some of the songs sound undeveloped in regard to songwriting, but it's the music rather than the songwriting that's so staggering. The songs on Jamaican Gold, some of which appear in multiple versions, sound very much of their time. And that's precisely what's so grand about the songs -- if there was a time and place when reggae was at its prime, it very likely would be in 1979 at Channel One. Reggae doesn't get much better than this: Sly on drums, Robbie on bass, and Collins on keyboards at the premier Jamaican studio of its era.

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