Dave & Ansel Collins

The Heavy, Heavy, Monster Sound of Dave & Ansel Collins

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When the single "Double Barrel" came out of Jamaica in 1971 -- complete with loose as a goose production, a maddeningly simple piano riff, and repeated manic interjections of "work, work" -- it shot straight to the top of the U.K. charts, and came within a whisker of the Top Twenty in the United States. Sounding like an unhinged version of Booker T. & the MG's playing at a frat party, "Double Barrel" was just one of those records that made listeners smile, even if it also drove those same listeners to the very edge of insanity. Credited to Dave and Ansel Collins, the duo behind "Double Barrel" was really vocalist and DJ Dave Barker (who spent the rest of his career trying to convince the world that he wasn't named "Dave Collins" and that he wasn't "Ansel"'s brother) and session keyboardist Ansel Collins. The pair released a second successful single, "Monkey Spanner," and a delightful 12-track, mostly instrumental rocksteady album that same year. This is that album, called here Heavy Heavy Monsters Sound of Dave & Ansel Collins (Ras has issued it with the exact same track sequence as Double Barrel), and even all these years later, it is still a goofy slice of total party fun. Full of monster Hammond organ riffs and piano runs from Collins, with added instrumental help from such esteemed Jamaican session players as Sly & Robbie, Lyn Taitt, Cedric Brooks, Tommy McCook, Earl "Chinna" Smith and Glady Gladstone, and propelled by Barker's frequent blurts, shrieks and yelps, the album is utterly unique and completely infectious. It is also continually surprising, particularly when Barker decides to show that he can really sing (he replaced Pat Kelly -- who had replaced Slim Smith -- in the second incarnation of the Techniques, after all) on a pair of achingly beautiful love songs, "My Best Girl" and "That Girl," helped by Winston Riley (who produced the album) and Lloyd Charmers on background vocals. Quirky and odd, as ramshackle as monkeys playing twister, Heavy Heavy Monsters Sound (or Double Barrel, depending on your choice) is a one of a kind album that manages to magically transcend its time.

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