Bruce Ruffin

The Best of Bruce

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Bruce Ruffin's name is not exactly written large across the history of reggae music, though his contribution to that history is far from insignificant. As a singer and songwriter for rocksteady mainstays the Techniques and as a charter member of pop-reggae crossover pioneers Inner Circle, his fingerprints are all over some of the music's most important developments. Yet he himself has remained (largely by his own choice) in the background, making his contributions without fanfare or self-promotion. This 27-track collection offers a fine introduction to his work as both a songwriter and singer, featuring material from Rain, his solo album, as well as a generous selection of singles and album tracks from his work with the Techniques and the Shades (a similarly configured harmony group that Ruffin formed after departing the Techniques) and in tandem with singers Pat Kelly and Winston Francis. Not everything is wonderful -- the Elvis impersonation on "Then Came the Heartbreak" is particularly embarrassing, as Ruffin himself now admits -- but there is lots and lots of great material here, including "Long About Now" (which features the band that would later become the Upsetters) and the sweetly heartbroken "(I Am A) True Believer." Highly recommended to all lovers of classic rocksteady and early reggae.

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