Various Artists

Rock Steady Soul: Original Cool Sounds of Duke Reid's Treasure Isle

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Moving into territory dominated by the Trojan and Heartbeat labels, Metro offers up a generous helping of producer Duke Reid's prime rocksteady and early reggae sides from the late '60s. While the sound quality is good and the liner notes informative enough, the real plus here is the fine track selection and bevy of alternate takes. Heartbeat's two-disc Treasure Chest collection is still the best way to begin any rocksteady collection, but the 21 cuts here will surely please completists hungry for versions galore. The cream of the era's stars is present, including such legendary singers as Alton Ellis ("Breaking Up"), Phyllis Dillon ("Perfidia"), and John Holt ("Ali Baba"). The quality continues with equally splendid harmony sides by the Paragons, the Melodians, and the Techniques, not to mention a few early DJ sides by U-Roy and Dennis Alcapone. A welcome addition to the wealth of vintage reggae recordings already available.

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