Gregory Isaacs

Not a One Man Thing

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Two years previous to this album, producers Jim and Carlton Hines had taken Gregory Isaacs into the modern dancehall, much it seemed to the singer's dismay. Now, with producer Junior Reid acting as escort, Isaacs is the life of the party, go figure. The Hines' brothers offered up sizzling rhythms with plenty of melody to wrap his vocals around, and the singer barely took notice, while Reid's are stripped back to the bone, sparse with vast open spaces to fill. Perhaps that's trick, here Isaacs had to work.Not a One Man Thing is filled with Reid's toughest rhythms, yet the producer still conjures up evocative atmospheres. And nowhere more so than on "Jah Bust the Case," with its thickly throbbing bassline and haunting melody line. It's times are tough in prison theme, is one that Isaacs has visited previously, but rarely as well, and its message is about to hit home for Rudie Boo who finally gets his come-uppance on "Rudeboy Bawl," built around an almost industrial sounding rhythm that instantly brings the sound of a robotic chain gang to mind. And completing the prison triptych is "Town Is Talking," versioning the "Skylarking" rhythm and making plain that if you "play with fire you will get burned."

Of course, Isaacs speaks from experience, and knows "Freedom" is all the sweeter, and on this fast-paced dancehall scorcher, the singer knocks a huge whole in Babylon's wall. However that's "Not a One Man Thing," and for the title track Dennis Brown and Reid joins forces with Isaacs on this heavy hitting cultural number. Or is that the other way around, for "Man" also appeared on Dennis Brown's Nothing Like This album this same year. Well fans can fight amongst themselves over who deserves top billing on this dancehall extravaganza.

In any case after hearing that why would Isaacs need to plead with listeners to "Don't Dis the Dancehall," an adventurous number whose backing is built around the popular nursery rhyme "Three Blind Mice." In contrast, "Want a Papa" is a revised and remodeled "Dapper Slapper," a song the singer originally cut for King Jammy. And, of course, it wouldn't be an Isaacs' album without a clutch of romantically themed numbers. With such taut rhythms its hard to get love's fire burning, but on such numbers as the impassioned "Come Make Love to Me" and "My First Love" the singer heats up the embers. Incidentally, Isaacs himself also released the Dreaming album this year, an aptly titled set, which dovetails nicely with this much heavier hitting offering.

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