Junior Reid

RAS Portraits

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The uninitiated are going to take little comfort from the brief sleeve notes, which mention a basket of hits, none of which are found here (as they all were released before the RAS label picked up the dancehall star). However, culling from three mid-'90s albums -- Visa, Junior Reid & the Bloods, and Listen to the Voices -- Portraits features a host of recent hits, including a pair of Jamaican smashes off Visa ("All Fruits Ripe" and "Gun Court," but sadly not "Friend Enemy" or "No Loafing). A word of warning to any stray Black Uhuru fans: Reid's solo career is in the dancehalls, not the roots scene. So save your money -- the only song remotely of interest to you is the sweet soul sounds of "Listen to the Voices." But for dancehall fans, this is a great intro into the DJ's world. Self-produced and shot through with Reid's always hot and inspired rhythms, the 11 tracks here showcase the DJ's varied delivery and ready tongue. From the machine-gun splatter chatter of "Cry Now" to the sweeter singing of "Showers of Blessing" to the apt chant-along "Anthem," Reid's performance is always spot-on. Thematically, too, the DJ tackles a host of subjects with equal aplomb. Many of the songs are drawn from personal experience ("Grammy" and "Dread Locks in the White House" included), while others are encouragements to hit the dancefloors ("Rasta World Dance" and "Anthem") and some ("Gun Court" and "Listen to the Voices") take on more serious subjects. So, while not a best-of package, this is a solid set of great songs, hits, and more.

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