Various Artists

Tighten Up, Vol. 5

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Arguably the most diverse of the entire Tighten Up series, the fifth volume swings from the seminal to the surreal, from politics to puffed-up pop. The seminal first, and few songs were more so than the Wailers' "Duppy Conqueror," one of their most classic cuts. Delroy Wilson's "Better Must Come" was equally so, and became a rallying cry for the oppressed before Jamaica's left-wing PNP party took it for their theme song as they swept into office in the 1972 election. If that single merely hinted at politics, Clancy Eccles' "Rod of Correction" is positively obtuse to outsiders, but its religious references were really a thinly veiled show of support for the PNP. Elsewhere, "Know Far I" is a premonition of dread to come and aptly illustrates the growing importance of the Rastafarian religion to the Jamaican music scene. As for the surreal, the Dynamites' cover of Alan Sherman's novelty hit "Hello Mudda" wins this category, aided by its extraordinarily out-of-place lush arrangement. Jimmy London of the Inspirations offers up a not-quite-inspired take of "Bridge Over Troubled Water"; better is Julien's (aka Judy Mowatt) soulful stab at "Joy to the World." The Chosen Few provide some great island twists to "Shaft," while Jackie Edwards & Julie Anne turn back the clock with a delectable "In Paradise"; the reggae beat is modern, but the vocal arrangement pure rocksteady. Dennis Alcapone heralds the arrival of the DJ superstars with "Ripe Cherry," a version of Eric Donaldson's hit "Cherry Oh Baby." Errol Dunkley illustrates another Jamaican passion -- medleys -- and his "Three in One" is a medley of a trio of his own old hits. Finally, the Maytals offer up a hit of their own: "It's You." Classic songs, throwaway covers, big hits, and bigger misses; the very variety of these sets is perhaps Tighten Up's true glory.

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