Various Artists

Trojan Box Set: Ska

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Trojan Box Set: Ska Review

by Jo-Ann Greene

Guaranteed to drive the purists around the bend, this budget-priced box set skimps on the packaging, but does make up for it with 50 tracks spread across three CDs. As the cynical have learned to expect, although advertised as a ska compilation, it does indeed stray repeatedly into rocksteady. Once upon a time, Trojan knew the difference, but apparently no longer. Admittedly though, it is classic rocksteady -- the Paragons, the Tamlins, the Valentines, with their sensational "Blam Blam Fever," and a clutch of other sublime vocal groups -- but let's get back to the ska. And here's the bit that will really infuriate collectors: Trojan has trawled through their archives and come up with enough gems to make listeners grit their teeth and buy this set regardless of the genre faux pas. Forget the bundle of big hits like "Get Up Edina" and "Carry Go Bring Come," it's tracks like Lord Tanamo's "I'm in the Mood for Ska" and Chuck & Dobby's "I Don't Need Your Love" that will make listeners drool. There's a host of steaming instrumentals from Baba Brooks, sundry Skatalites, and other equally talented players; sizzling duets from the likes of Lloyd & Glen, the battling Stranger & Patsy, Winston & George, and Clive & Naomi; and seminal offerings from Eric Morris, Derrick Morgan, Stranger Cole, a stunner from the Techniques, and a pair of gems from the Ethiopians. So, two-and-a-half hours of phenomenal music -- with that, one can put up with the occasional non-ska track.

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