Little Roy

Longtime

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More first-class modern roots reggae from the usual suspects at On-U Sound. Who is Little Roy? The liner notes give no background information, but he's a good singer and songwriter with a voice somewhere between the laconic reediness of Gregory Isaacs and the sweeter tones of Freddie McGregor. The mixing prowess of On-U label head Adrian Sherwood is, as always, a central feature of the album, but his production style seems to have mellowed a bit as he's gotten older; he can still dub it up with the wildest of them, but he no longer seems to feel that he has to do so at all times. The result is a richly textured and sonically satisfying collection of straight-ahead reggae tunes. Notice the restraint Sherwood shows on "Way Down," letting the repeater drums push the groove along subtly, then notice how he revs it up a bit during the song's dubwise extension. Also notice the lovely and slightly eerie sampled voices on "Long Time Rocksteady." Try not to notice "Blackman," a by-the-numbers sufferah's anthem with a plodding rockers beat, and feel free to ignore the dub version, as well. Everything else, however, borders on essential.

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