Various Artists

The Wonderful World of Reggae

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Although this various-artists compilation was released in 1980, the tracks mostly date from a few years earlier and feature a number of the Mighty Two production team's biggest names. Unfortunately, while the star value on this set is high, the actual hit quotient is low. With that in mind, however, this still is a fabulous collection. The point of entry for most reggae fans was Dennis Brown, who is showcased here with four songs, including "Money in My Pocket." This song was originally released by Joe Gibbs back in 1972 and overseen by Winston Niney Holness; in 1979, Gibbs and Errol Thompson had the singer re-cut the song for them, whereupon it sailed into the U.K. Top 15. Of equal interest is the Mighty Two's revision of another Brown/Holness megahit, "Cassandra." Add two more soulful numbers, and this quartet was worth the price of admission alone. But there's also a pair of sublime Culture songs, including their superb "Jah Jah See Them a Come." Swinging from cultural to romantic numbers, Marcia Aitkens offers up "I Am Not a Queen," a lovely feminine take on the Delroy Wilson hit "I Am Not a King." Ruddy Thomas gives a wonderfully soulful performance on a cover of the Sensations' "Everyday Is Just a Holiday," set to a splendid roots arrangement. And for the dancehall fans there's Xanadu & Sweet Lady's "Rocker's Choice," whose rhythm is nicked from Blondie's rap hit "Rapture." Gibbs' studio band, the Professionals, kick the festivities into high gear with "Rock Party." So, not the Two's greatest work, but still a marvelously diverse and enjoyable set.