Various Artists

Treasure Isle Showtime

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Although Studio One certainly had its fans, there's no denying that the Treasure Isle label ruled the rocksteady roost, although the tables turned with the rise of reggae. Across the latter half of the '60s, Duke Reid released hundreds of classic singles to avid audiences both at home in Jamaica and abroad, creating dozens of stars. So many of those gorgeous songs remain buried in the vaults, and sadly, Treasure Isle Showtime does little to remedy that lamentable situation. Once again, listeners are treated to a compilation showcasing the same gems already glittering in dozens of other sets, including the Heartbeat label's own. Is there anyone beyond those just discovering this music who doesn't own the Paragons' "On the Beach" and "Wear You to the Ball," the Melodians' "Come on Little Girl" and "You Don't Need Me," U-Roy's DJ version of the latter "Rock Away," Alton Ellis' "Girl I've Got a Date" and "Cry Tough," Justin Hinds' "Carry Go Bring Come," the Jamaicans' "Baba Boom," and the Techniques' "You Don't Care"? Thus, most readers already own half the songs on this 22-track compilation, even if some of these are alternate takes. That said, the "Rock Steady" version of "Carry Go Bring Come" is sure to pique listeners' interest, and a sublime version it is. However, the packaging is superb, with a fulsome booklet filled with contemporary photos and copious line notes; the sequencing is flawless; and it's particularly nice to have vocal versions, instrumentals, and/or DJ versions all lined up in a row. Of the less-familiar numbers, Ken Parker's bouncy "I Can't Hide," an early reggae classic, and Phyllis Dillon's gorgeous "Rock Steady" are welcome inclusions, as is Hopeton Lewis' superb 1970 Song Festival winner "Boom Shacka Lacka." Introduced by U-Roy with fabulous harmonies provided by the Tennors, this was a huge hit which surprisingly hasn't been compiled to death in the U.S. As an introduction to the label and its many gems, this disc is a winner -- arguably the best that Heartbeat has unleashed. But for fans, it may disappoint, and it's best to check the track list carefully.

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