Israel Vibration

This Is Crucial Reggae

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One of the most popular of Jamaica's harmony trios, Israel Vibration have stuck with a patented Rasta roots approach since first forming in the 1970s, and if their records aren't exactly strikingly innovative, they aren't jarringly slack, either, and the group has stayed continually committed to the rights of sufferers everywhere. This 12-track compilation draws mostly from their long stay with RAS Records, so naturally most of the cuts here were produced by RAS head man Doctor Dread, with a couple produced by Tommy Cowan and another by Flabba Holt, while the energetic lead track, "Get Up and Go," was self-produced by the trio itself. In spite of having different hands at the helm, though, the anthology holds together rather seamlessly, featuring a bright, muscular sound driven by perfectly placed horn lines. Highlights include "Get Up and Go," "Run But You Can't Hide," "Rudeboy Shufflin'," and what has become the Vibe's signature tune, "The Same Song." The concluding cut is a live rendition of one of the trio's best songs, "Strength of My Life." This Is Crucial Reggae works as a quick introduction to the group, but RAS' Power of the Trinity box set from 2000 remains the one absolutely essential Israel Vibration purchase.

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