Gregory Isaacs

Masterclass

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Though some of his most powerful recordings have been roots-and-culture material -- Mr. Isaacs remains one of the finest roots reggae albums of all time -- Gregory Isaacs' bread and butter has always been pop-oriented love songs; his career was built on a unique ability to transcend an unattractively thin, almost whiny voice and turn it into an instrument of mass seduction. On Masterclass, a collaborative effort with the seemingly tireless producer Blacka Dread, he revisited those loverman roots, with very pleasing results. Dread's rich and varied rhythms did a good job of covering for Isaacs' somewhat diminished vocal capacity, and on highlight tracks like the plaintive "Secret Love Affair" and the dark, rootsy sufferer's anthem "False Evidence" it's the instrumental backing that shone most brightly while Isaacs intoned his trademark murmur above them. But even though he wasn't at the top of his game, Isaacs did hold his own with admirable confidence.

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