Horace Andy

Roots and Classics

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    7
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A totally incoherent compilation, but stuffed with so much wonderful music that Horace Andy fans will probably forgive the confusion. The 30 tracks spread across two discs on Roots and Classics throw any sense of era or chronology to the wind, tossing together ragga versions with roots and rockers classics willie-nillie, while the vague sleeve notes only further muddy the waters. Really, what's the point of writing about songs not on the set, and neglecting the ones that are? Roots fans may find the resulting mishmash annoying; there they are digging the mid-'70s era cuts, Bunny Lee's work to the fore, when suddenly, out of nowhere, digitized versions of "See a Man's Face" and "Fever" appear. To make matters worse, the remastering gives even the classic cuts a synthesized sound. That at least helps prepare listeners for the second disc, whose cuts all date from the ragga age and beyond. Of course, Andy's fans are used to this by now, so often has he recut his classic material, virtually from the get-go, as the Lee material proves, much of which were re-recordings of his earlier Studio One hits. With "Eating Mess," he takes it a step further, recutting a number first recorded for Wackies in the '80s. But for those who don't agonize over such things, who couldn't care a fig when or with whom Andy recorded, Roots and Classics is a careening journey through the singer's career, and a deft reminder that Andy remained a force in the reggae scene long beyond the roots age. However, his roots fans are now forewarned.

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