The Gaylads

Over the Rainbow's End: The Best of the Gaylads

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While not nearly as well-known outside of Jamaica as the Wailers or the Maytals, the Gaylads merit similar consideration among reggae's greatest vocal groups -- with radiant, sophisticated three-part harmonies ideally matched to the rise of the down-tempo rocksteady rhythm, their records boast a beauty and angelic fragility unique in the reggae canon, and their choice of both material and producers was impeccable. Over the Rainbow's End compiles a generous 26 cuts from the trio's 1968-1971 heyday, the best of which -- "ABC Rocksteady" and the title cut among them -- were recorded not with the legendary Coxsone Dodd or Leslie Kong but with the lesser-known Sonia Pottinger, who perfectly couched the Gaylads' vocals in soft, supple arrangements most evocative of classic doo wop. Although the quality trails off following the exit of co-founder Winston Delano Stewart, there's not a truly disappointing moment here, and the first half-dozen or so tracks rank among the most glorious in all of reggae.

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