Various Artists

Mad Guitar

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The "one-rhythm" album concept -- in which a bunch of vocalists and deejays are enlisted to take turns singing or chatting over a single instrumental backing track (or "rhythm") -- is one of reggae's most annoying contributions to popular music. Yet given an interesting enough rhythm, a varied assortment of vocalists and some creative tweaking on the engineer's part, a one-rhythm album can come close to being listenable -- maybe not all the way through in one sitting, but in bite-sized pieces. Mad Guitar achieves that improbable feat by bringing in such A-list toasters as Buju Banton ("No Tek Check"), Elephant Man ("Tump di Sky") and the underrated Roundhead (whose rockstone-flavored "U Maan Waan You" offers a surprisingly complex vocal arrangement in the chorus), as well as a smaller complement of impressive singers, notably Tami ("Oh No"). The "Mad Guitar" rhythm itself, provided courtesy of up-and-coming producer Donovan "Vendetta" Bennett is funky and flexible enough to lend itself nicely to the various vocal approaches taken by this roster of singers and chatters. Recommended.

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