Various Artists

Solid Gold from the Vaults, Vol. 1

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This is a fine first installment to Trojan's "showcase (of) rare classic singles of the golden era of Jamaican music, from the sixties to the early seventies." Selected by London DJ Sir Tropical Downbeat, the set features version numbers as well as rock steady vocals and instrumentals. Dave Barker's treble-heavy, yelping DJ exclamations on "Shocks 71" start things off in an uproarious manner, with Winston Williams following suit on "DJ's Choice" and "People's Choice." Stratospheric organ solos and dark trombone rumblings figure prominently on instrumentals like Herman's "New Love" and the Rhythm Ruler's "Proud Feeling," while the Bleechers lay down some airy harmonies on "Ease Up." Hints of reggae show up on Stranger Cole's "Help Wanted" and Carl Bryan's "Red Ash." The sound is a bit rough, but that's what one would expect with a collection of rare sides. Of great appeal for the fan of the early years of Jamaican music, but probably not a good call for anyone new to the music.

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