Ras

Trojan Ras Reggae Box Set

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A budget-priced three-disc box like this is really the perfect way to introduce yourself to the catalog of RAS Records (short for "Real Authentic Sound"), which was once America's most prolific reggae label. Its output has slowed to a trickle since it was acquired by the Sanctuary corporation, which now also owns the Trojan imprint; even in RAS' heyday, though, the ratio of great to mediocre RAS albums was only about one to three. This set does a good job of representing the label's high points, from deep roots anthems like Culture's "One Stone" to classics of early dancehall like Tenor Saw's tremendously influential "Ring the Alarm," and from nyahbinghi chants (courtesy of Rastafari Elders) to raggamuffin mashups by the likes of Little Lenny ("Gun in a Baggy"). There is smooth pop-reggae courtesy of Freddie McGregor and Mystic Revealers, dub poetry courtesy of Mutabaruka, and instrumental dub courtesy of Scientist and Sly & Robbie. RAS' finest years may be behind it, but this set proves that the label made a powerful contribution to the reggae scene in its day.

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