The Ethiopians

Reggae Hit the Town [#1]

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A bumper collection of some of the Ethiopians' finest work, and for once the title is barely misleading. Bar the first two tracks, which pre-date the genre's arrival, Reggae Hit the Town is drawn exclusively from that hit-filled era. A succinct career summary helps to put things in perspective, and best of all, the tracks are sequenced in chronological order, allowing listeners to chart the group's progress for themselves. What's missing are release dates and, worse yet, production credits. As the selector obviously worked hard on this fine overview, without playing producer favorites, this is a particular pity. So for the record, there's Coxsone Dodd's stellar "Owe Me No Pay Me," which heralded the shift from ska to rocksteady, Sonia Pottinger's pure rocksteady smash "Cool It Amigo," a clutch of classics from H Robinson including the celebratory title track and the sizzling "Fire a Mus Mus Tail," a batch from J.J. Johnson including the forceful "Buss Your Mouth," and a pair of stellar cuts from both Derrick Harriott ("Lot's Wife") and Alvin Ranglin (the superb "Starvation"). Winston Riley is well represented, and listeners can pick between "Jericho," "Promises," and others. Rupie Edwards oversaw the insistent "Big Splish Splash," while some of Leonard Dillon's own productions are also showcased among the album's final tracks. By this time, the Ethiopians were beginning to fall from favor, although their music remained just as high caliber; 1974's "Conquering Lion" was especially noteworthy. Although some of these tracks turn up regularly on compilations, the bulk of the set can only be found with difficulty elsewhere, even though none are rarities and most were hits. Thus, Reggae is one of the best places for new fans to start, and a boon for those already well aware of this group's enormous talent.

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