So versatile a group are Israel Vibration that it's difficult to categorize each member's individual contributions. In general, Lacelle Wiss Bulgin tended to offer up the most militant numbers, Al Craig gravitated toward unity numbers and party pieces, while Cecil Skelly Spence leaned toward the more introspective numbers. However, there are no real boundaries, and all three often crossed these imaginary lines. Of the trio, which later became a duo, Spence had the least-conventional singing voice, and in their earliest years his reedy voice graced the group with a vulnerable quality that immediately charmed audiences. With time his vocal strength has grown, and his impassioned delivery helps define Israel Vibration's more contemporary sound. On Skelly Vibes fans can chart his progress across the years through a dozen tracks drawn from their career up though 1996 and the Free to Move album. The CD is taken from the Power of the Trinity three-CD box set, which the RAS label made available as single discs. What makes these compilations special is that each of the 12 songs is prefaced by the artist discussing the number and the interviews, conducted by label head Doctor Dread, that are appended at the end. All are transcribed in the sleeve notes, alongside the song lyrics and complete credits. With nine studio albums to cull from and only 12 songs to choose, the selector had difficult choices to make, but most fans will be satisfied. Across such seminal early numbers as "Why Worry" and "Same Song," into the group's reunion and their glorious "Strength of My Life," across the festive "Red Eyes" and anthemic "Feelin' Irie," the set sweeps across the years, gathering up Spence's most memorable numbers along the way. With the bonus of listening to the singer reminisce about his life, his music, and his inspirations, Skelly Vibes is as good as a private session with the great artist.
AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene