Various Artists

Lloyd Daley's Matador Productions, 1968-1972

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Like many of reggae's best producers, Lloyd Daley remains virtually unknown outside of Jamaica, though his name and that of his Matador label will evoke smiles of recognition among hardcore reggae fans. Heartbeat was the first American label to release a compilation of classic Matador sides, and the result is spectacular. There are many predictable gems from famous artists -- notably U Roy, who toasts in classic fashion on "Sound of the Wise," and Alton Ellis, whose "Back to Africa" is one of the truly archetypal repatriation anthems -- but even more impressive are the stellar contributions from the relative unknowns. Perhaps the best track on the album is the deeply moving "Cholera" by the Jesters, a beautiful and melancholy depiction of the horror of contagious disease in a tropical climate; on the lighter side are equally fine songs by obscure harmony groups like the Creators ("Bad Name") and the Caribbeans ("Let Me Walk By"), and the exquisite "Repatriation" by Audley Rollins. There really is not a single weak track to be found among these 16, and several of them can be counted among the finest reggae singles ever released. Highly recommended. [This album was later reissued as volume 12 in Heartbeat's Reggae's Greatest Hits series.]

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