Desmond Dekker / The Specials

King of Kings

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AllMusic Review by

One of those ideas which look great on paper, but disappoint in reality. The concept of pairing the Jamaican singing legend with the Specials is indeed brilliant, unfortunately it occurred around a dozen years too late. So this is not the adrenaline fueled two toners of yore, but a more sedate version circa 1993, accompanied by a quartet of session men. King of Kings is not a total abortion, however, the thought of what could have been weights heavily on the final result. The band run through a dozen Jamaican gems from the 1960s, hits from the likes of Eric Morris, Derrick Morgan, Justin Hines, Jimmy Cliff, Theo Beckford, Hopeton Lewis, and Dekker himself. It all swings along pleasantly enough, but few of the tracks exude enough energy to really grab one's attention. Not surprisingly, one of the stand-outs is Dekker's own "King of Ska," where everyone goes hell for leather; equally good is a smoking version of "Carry Go Bring Come." Elsewhere the bland arrangements and slick playing bleed the lifeblood right out of the songs. Dekker valiantly attempts resuscitation, and his own performances saves the album from flat lining, but it still remains on life support.

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