Once again, it takes a German company to unearth and reissue a lost treasure of American music. When singer Wayne Jarrett was working at the peak of his powers, he was part of the stable of Wackie's, the Bronx-based label owned by Lloyd "Bullwackies" Barnes. Wackie's output has languished in obscurity for 20 years and now appears to be owned by a collective of German DJs and producers, which is gradually reissuing the label's somewhat uneven but sometimes revelatory back catalog. This one is one of the best items. Showcase, Vol. 1 is exactly what its title indicates: a collection of Jarrett songs presented in "showcase" style, each vocal version collapsing seamlessly into a dub mix at about the three- or four-minute mark; thus the program of six songs lasts about 40 minutes. The production work by Barnes and Clive Chin is dark, wet, and soupy -- every song sounds like it's yearning toward its dub version even while the vocalist is in full swing. The songs themselves are a bit generic, as late-'70s and early-'80s reggae tends to be: song titles like "Brimstone & Fire," "Every Tongue Shall Tell," and "Holy Mount Zion" tell you exactly what to expect. But Jarrett's quavery tenor voice is sweet and clear, and the songs are tuneful and impassioned; the occasional surprising instrumental element (like the gorgeous flutes on "Holy Mount Zion" and the elegantly glittering percussion on "Magic in the Air") turns what would otherwise be a perfectly serviceable roots exercise into something more transcendent. And the dub versions are uniformly excellent. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson