Various Artists

Rare Reggae Grooves from Studio One

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The uniquely close working relationship between Chris Wilson's Heartbeat label and Clement "Coxsone" Dodd's venerable Studio One label continues to produce some of the best reggae reissues around, and this one is no exception. This album consists of extended 12" mixes of old singles by such eminent Studio One artists as Lloyd Robinson, the Gaylads, the Silvertones and the great Ken Boothe; interestingly, the original tracks (mostly recorded between the late '60s and early '70s) seem to have new drum parts overdubbed onto them by the legendary drummer Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace. The result is an interesting juxtaposition of old-school rock steady sounds and sharper, more modern drum parts laced with the occasional hint of synthesized percussion. It's a combination that works better than you might expect -- Lloyd Robinson's "Cuss Cuss" benefits greatly from Horsemouth's solid attack, and Ken Boothe's more ska-inflected "Come Running Back" is also nicely fortified by better bass definition and a crisp hi-hat sound. Most of these tracks are presented with dub versions appended; in other cases, the instrumental track is simply extended once the vocal part is finished. Those mixes are less effective than the real dub versions, but aren't a real liability. Recommended.

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