Israel Vibration

RAS Portraits

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This is a fine introduction to the Vibes experience, succinctly summing up their career from 1977 to the present day. However, with 15 albums to cull from and only 15 tracks to fill, tough choices had to be made. Both the trio's excellent live albums fell by the wayside, as did two out of their four dub sets. One track is featured from each of the Vibes' remaining albums, two are pulled from On the Rock and Dub Vibration, and there are a pair of previously unreleased dubs. As always with the Portraits series, chronology is ignored in an attempt to create a more overall album feel. Although not always successful, in this case the sequencing works pretty well. From early masterpieces ("The Same Song," "We A de Rasta," and "Highway Robbery") to their first recordings after re-formation ("Cool and Calm") and on to the modern day (1996's "Feelin' Irie"), Portraits bounces across history. Some of the choices are a little odd, however. The sublime "Strength of My Life" appears in its dub form, while "Highway Robbery" wins out over the superior "Smack Right Jam" (the centerpiece of the Why You So Craven album). Regardless, this compilation will inevitably pique curiosity for newcomers and hopefully encourage people to seek out more.

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