Various Artists

Reggae Fresh

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Usually a label compilation is precisely that, a CD where the label touts its talent. But here listeners have the rather unusual situation of a budget label paying tribute to another label entirely. Reggae Fresh is dedicated to RAS, the States' premier reggae label. Over the years, RAS has been home to some of Jamaica's most notable acts -- Black Uhuru, Bunny Wailer, Gregory Isaacs, Culture, the Itals, Freddie McGregor, and the list goes on. The label has always had an allegiance to roots and culture, and this is reflected in its roster. In the '80s, when roots fell from favor in Jamaica, RAS provided a welcome refuge from the gun and slacker onslaught. They kept the flames burning, supporting numerous artists through what would otherwise have been lean years. In the case of Israel Vibration, the label took a defunct trio all but forgotten at home and nurtured the group on its rise to become one of the top reggae acts of the modern age. Neither was RAS adverse to the lighter side of the sound system scene, signing both the eccentric but thoroughly enjoyable Eek-A-Mouse and the always entertaining Yellowman. Barrington Levy helped bring roots back onto the dancefloor, while Tony Rebel led a new wave of cultural DJs up the charts. In their wake came such stars as Sizzla and Luciano. All of these artists are featured within Reggae Fresh, which rounds up 16 of the label's most notable performers and some of their best songs. From the Vibes' anthemic "Rudeboy Shuffling" to Uhuru's seething "Brutal" and from Yellowman's exuberant "Party" to Levy and Bounty Killer's smash "Living Dangerously," this compilation presents a glowing overview of a seminal label.

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