Various Artists

Trojan Mod Reggae, Vol. 2

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Britain's mods loved their Motown and American R&B in the early '60s, and for a little bit of an exotic change of pace, they also embraced the Jamaican ska and rocksteady sides that were being released in the U.K. for the local West Indies communities, and since so much of this Jamaican music was in turn based on American R&B, it all formed a crazy, delightful little circle on the mod dancefloors. It also gives Trojan a historical reason to go even deeper into their licensing vaults for this three-disc set of relatively obscure ska and early rocksteady sides. The first disc is probably the strongest, with Byron Lee's skewed cover of Booker T. & the MG's' "Green Onions," the Techniques' "Little Did You Know," the Dingle Brothers' horn-happy "This Is Thunder," Desmond Dekker's classic "Honor Your Mother and Father," the Muskyteers' (actually the Silvertones posing as another group) "Kidd-O," and Babba Brooks' instrumental "Baby Elephant Walk" all well worth a listen. Highlights on the second disc include Roy Bennett's eerie and rather discordant "I Dangerous," Ansel Collins' equally bizarre "Cock Robin," and the reverbed-to-the-moon "Double Wheel" by the Upsetters, produced, of course, by Lee "Scratch" Perry. The third disc offers Derrick Harriott's "Mama Didn't Lie," which is as about as pop as things get here, Roland Alphonso's interesting interpretation of Jimmy Smith's "The Cat," and the Ethiopians' wry "Hong Kong Flu." Casual listeners may find three discs of this stuff to be a bit much, but fans of early Jamaican pop music will already know what to expect and will be delighted at some of these rarities. Is it mod? Not really, but it sure is Jamaican, with truckloads of horns and cheap organs on quirky tracks that could only have come from Kingston -- or the moon.

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