Various Artists

Rudies All Round

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The ultimate rude boy collection, Rudies All Round is packed with 20 rocksteady hits that all revolve around the rude boys themselves. This is rocksteady at its most exquisite, featuring duos, solo artists accompanied by their sublime backing bands, and classic vocal groups like the Pioneers, the Rulers, the Tartans, and the Clarendonians. Beyond the slow, smooth rhythms and phenomenal vocals, the album also illustrates the island's mixed feelings about its young bad boys. Joe White's title track celebrates their arrival, as does the Pioneers' "Rudies Are the Greatest" and Desmond Dekker's "Rude Boy Train." The Rulers, in contrast, sweetly protest "Don't Be a Rude Boy," while the rudies inspire fear in the Overtakers, who warn "Beware." As rude boy mayhem reached epic proportions, groups began to comment on the violence sweeping Jamaica, such as the Clarendonians' "Rudie Bam Bam," the Valentines' "Blam Blam Fever," and Winston & George's "Denham Town." Then, as events began to spin out of control, artists released songs meant to help calm the situation: "Cool Off Rudie," "Stop the Violence," and "Drop the Ratchet" among them. But it was too late, resulting in "Soldiers Take Over," the institution of a "Curfew," and a situation far from "Copasetic," as the Rio Grandes, Bobby Aitken, and the Rulers sonorously explained. The set's last two tracks are given over to the Judge Dread saga. Lee Perry's "Set Them Free" is an eloquent defense of these miscreant youths. Derrick Morgan's "Judge Dread in Court" was the artist's final salvo in the soap opera, a hilarious song wherein he jails the judge. However, entertaining as it is, it seems a bit out of place here. Regardless, there's no better compilation of the era than this.

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