Various Artists

Reggae Goodies, Vol. 1

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One of the things that made Lloyd "Bulwackies" Barnes' Sounds Unlimited studio in the Bronx special was the way it seemed to draw every half-decent reggae artist in the New York area into its sonic net. And, of course, that was also what made the Wackies label's output uneven -- some of those artists really were only half-decent, and have since been mercifully lost in the mists of reggae history. The two Reggae Goodies compilations (originally released in the late '70s and here reissued together on a single CD) feature a variety of Wackies artists, most of them obscure, several of them with good reason. On the more illustrious side are the legendary Stranger Cole (whose "Capture Land" is okay, but not up to the standards he set during his rocksteady days) and the Love Joys, a female vocal trio who cut some of the label's most attractive sides while still in their teens. Some of the most impressive tracks on this collection are instrumentals, and include Wanachi's "Black Root" and the horn-heavy and nicely arranged "Love Dream" by Sel Wheeler & Azul. The Chosen Brothers deliver a fairly lame recut of the Stranger Cole classic "Say You" (here titled "Love Me to the End"), but Wayne Jarrett's "African Woman" is up to his usually high standard, and John Clarke's "Recession" hits fairly hard as well (just don't confuse him with Johnnie Clarke, or you'll be disappointed). Not bad at all, and a good value for your money, to boot.

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