Gregory Isaacs

Mr. Brown

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In 1995, Caroline released the Mr. Love compilation, a sublime set that drew from Gregory Isaacs two Front Line releases, 1978's Cool Ruler and the following year's Soon Forward, as well as Caroline's own Once Ago. That latter 1990 set was itself a compilation, pairing the bulk of Isaacs' two Pre albums, 1980s The Lonely Lover and its follow-up, 1981's More Gregory. Mr. Love pared down these four fabulous records to 21 crucial tracks, creating a superb "best-of" set from the late '70s and early '80s. Mr. Brown showed up four years later, and shaved seven songs off of the sumptuous Mr. Love, for this briefer, budget-priced collection. Few would want to be in the position of the selector choosing which seven were to go, but can't imagine any of Isaacs' roots and culture fans would have voted for the likes of "Black Liberation Struggle," "Uncle Joe," or "Universal Tribulation," all three of which were deleted. However, rather than dwell on what's gone, look at what's left; the remainder are magnificent. They're stunning slabs of roots rock classics, a slew of huge hits among them, with the many cultural numbers interspersed with such romantic sound system winners as "Soon Forward" and "Let's Dance." This abbreviated set will leave listeners hungry for more, but then again, so did its longer progenitor, a reflection of just how strong Isaacs recordings during this period were. The cool ruler at his mightiest heights.

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