With the phenomenal success of Trojan's Tighten Up series, it was inevitable that the label would launch another budget-priced series to cash in on an obviously eager market for recent singles, warts and all. The first volume of Club Reggae was duly released in 1971, with the fifth and final volume appearing in 1973 (a full priced double album followed in 1974, closing the series). This three-CD budget box set rounds up much, but not all, of the original records' tracks. Like Tighten Up, these compilations were patchy affairs, for hits don't necessarily equate with great music. To complicate matters, many of the more seminal songs have been deliberately omitted here, presumably because the assumption was purchasers would already have them. This inevitably makes Club Reggae seem even more lop-sided than the albums actually were. Back in the day, reggae lite covers of pop hits were all the rage, thus the original albums were packed with them. This makes the box set a virtual minefield, heavily weighted with these unnecessary MOR takes on pop fluff and older Jamaican classics. Most are dross, but there are a few gems to be found amongst them. With the majority of the more memorable hits MIA, the rest of the box is given over to lesser known numbers, and there's treasures to be found here as well. Johnnie Clarke's classic "Enter Into His Gates With Praise," the Vulcans' sci-fi fired instrumental "Star Trek," Hopeton Lewis & the Chosen Few's "Boom Shacka Lacka" are just a few of the stand outs, while some of the best cuts come from the DJs, including Herman's "To the Fields" and Lloyd & Carey's awesome "Scorpion." Tastes have changed since the early '70s, and most buyers could boil this box down to a single crucial disc. The budget price means you can do just that.
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AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2
Track Listing - Disc 3