Various Artists

The Mighty Striker Shoots at Hits

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With the death of Joe Gibbs in early 2008, Bunny "Striker" Lee was left as one of a very small surviving handful of legendary first-generation reggae producers. His production career started just over forty years earlier, and while this fine 17-track retrospective doesn't go all the way back to those early rocksteady years, it does offer a fine overview of some of his best work during the roots era, gathering together recordings made between 1973 and 1979. Lee's stature during this period can be gauged in part by the quality and popularity of the singers who came to his studio: on this collection they include Horace Andy, Cornel Campbell, Delroy Wilson, and Leroy Smart, as well as a handful of lesser-known artists. There are one or two tracks whose inclusion is a little bit puzzling: Barry Brown's "Natty Roots Man" is a tedious one-chord exercise, and the lyrics to Johnny Clarke's "Rockers for Me" sound a bit like they were improvised in the studio. But most of what's included here is very good, in particular Horace Andy's brilliant "I Don't Want to Be Left Outside" (aka "Zion Gate," presented here in an excellent showcase version) and Clarke's optimistic rockers-style "Peace in the Ghetto." And Leroy Smart's "Love in My Heart" (also presented showcase-style, with a fine dub version appended) is a treat as well. Everything else varies from good to excellent. Highly recommended.

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