There was always something instantly recognizable about Augustus Pablo's particular brand of reggae. Whether he led the session from the mixing board or the keyboard, there was always a sense of spiritual yearning, a mystical and slightly eerie vibe that permeated the music. His personal sound, which he dubbed "Far East" (a designation he perpetuated with song titles like "East of the River Nile" and "Java"), took the roots reggae tendency toward minor keys and slow, smoky grooves to its logical conclusion. This collection, which is culled from some of Pablo's finest releases and focuses primarily on his instrumental work, will give the newcomer a good sense of Pablo's uniquely beautiful art. It includes such seminal material as "East of the River Nile" (coupled with a dub version), "African Queen," and the always popular "Java," which is presented alongside an excellent DJ cut featuring Dennis Alcapone and entitled "Mava." There are also versions of a couple of Lee "Scratch" Perry hits, "Fever" (here titled "Hot and Cold") and "Curly Locks." Reggae fans who own this album shouldn't hesitate to delve deeper into the Pablo catalog (King Tubbys Meet Rockers Uptown remains the definitive collection), but this one is a great place to start.
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AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson
feat: John Holt