The Roots Lover: 1978-1983

Sugar Minott

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The Roots Lover: 1978-1983 Review

by David Jeffries

It's under-represented in the age of the CD reissue, but often roots reggae and early dancehall were first made available in 12" versions that were really the future A-side and the future B-side version mashed closely together. Despite the simplicity, the device worked well, pleasingly extending the grooves past the five-minute mark while giving some impression of how the legendary sound systems of Jamaica would segue versions and dubs while working an audience. The Moll-Selekta label will win over the reggae 12" collector's heart with this compilation of hard to find extended mixes from the sweet-voiced Sugar Minott. Best news of all, the collection sounds phenomenal with the Basic Channel label's deep lathe wizard Moritz Von Oswald handling the ear-bud-killing, thumping remastering and "restoration." Compare the remastered and extended "A Slice of Cake" to the original and it's obvious how the slow, angry simmer of the track works better here. Lighter material like the sweet "African Girl" benefits from this treatment, too, as the track joyfully skips down the road for eight minutes with dub version trailing. It's also the track to check to see if you agree with Von Oswald's mastering, which doesn't mind pushing the meter into the red if it means the low end is gonna shake. As for Minott himself, he's savoring each song and often letting grooves run their course without much interruption, something easier to do on a 12" than an album. While the collection lacks key tracks, front-loads the ones it does have, and focuses on only one era of the man's career, the songs here are presented just how the core reggae audience first consumed them. Check another Minott comp if you're unfamiliar with the artist, then come back here when you're ready to sprawl out to some really authentic sounds.

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