Various Artists

Tighten Up, Vol. 3

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With another dozen hits, misses, legends, and lesser-knowns, Tighten Up, Vol. 3 continues down diversity's road for another unforgettable musical experience. The Maytals' "Monkey Man" is the obvious point of entry for Americans, but Nicky Thomas' "Love of the Common People" trumps that in the U.K., as it was later taken to number two in the charts by white soul singer Paul Young. Much of the rest of the set may draw blanks, bar the Upsetters' "Shocks of Mighty," an instrumental set to one of Lee Perry's more laid-back rhythms, but intensified by Dave Barker's yelps. King Stitt offers up a second DJ track; on "Herbsman" he plays your pusher of choice, cajoling listeners over and over again to "take a drag" while noisily inhaling, while the jaunty rhythm just adds to the thrill. Unlike volume two, which boasted a coterie of vocal groups, this time there's only two: the Maytals and the Kingstonians; however, there's still a clutch of great singers within. Jimmy Cliff is "Suffering" on a song that seems to celebrate poverty on a surprisingly upbeat number. The great Ken Boothe takes a walk down "Freedom Street" arm in arm with a particularly limber bass on one of the set's standouts. The Gay Lad's Delano Stewart's "Stay a Little Bit Longer" is another; it's a perfect pop-reggae single set to a bouncy beat and ably abetted by the singer's sweet delivery. Dandy Livingstone returns with a crooning cover of an old R&B chestnut, which leaves Nora Dean to offer up the album's one rude track, the infectious "Barb Wire." In contrast, "Queen of the World" isn't as boastful as you might expect. The world was a dance, and Claudette, its queen, and Lloyd, her prince, belt out a simple song backed by an insistent beat guaranteed to fan the flames of this latest dance craze. This volume was not quite as hit-filled as past ones, but just as relevant regardless.

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