Don Carlos

Lazer Beam, Vol. 1

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Don Carlos exudes such warmth in his singing that musical simplicity and repetition become assets in his hands. Better than most reggae singers, he takes boilerplate rasta themes and creates uniformly sweet, charismatic music. When addressing traditional themes of conflict and betrayal ("Jonnie Big Mouth," "Dice Cup"), again he wins the listener over by being genuine and forthright. He is also a natural with love songs: "Too Late to Turn Back Now" is the peer of any song in the lovers rock genre. Fortunately, the aura of intimacy that Carlos creates is not harmed by the limited production values on display. Indeed, when he sings "It's I Don Carlos on the drum and bass," the spare sound production adds to the music's mystique. This Culture Press CD, Lazer Beam, is a reissue of material from two recording sessions; tracks one through 12 were produced by Bunny "Striker" Lee and feature the Aggrovators and Sly & Robbie, while tracks 13 through 23 were produced by Niney "the Observer" Holmes and feature the Roots Radics, the Eradication Squad horns, harmonies by Gold, and mixing by Scientist. Only "Mr. Sun," the great song that closes this collection, has not appeared on a previous Don Carlos release, although it has represented him on various compilations. The remaining songs have appeared in different combinations on a variety of Don Carlos releases and reissues. Amidst all of these options, this disc is recommended for its good quantity of essential Don Carlos material, although albums such as Day to Day Living that contain different versions from different sessions should be judged on their own merits.

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