Chaka Demus & Pliers

Ultimate Collection

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AllMusic Review by

DJ Chaka Demus and singer Pliers are a real double threat: Both are highly gifted artists, one of them a better-than-average dancehall toaster and the other a sweet-voiced crooner with a cool, assured delivery, and they have managed to attract the attention of some of reggae's finest producers, most notably Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. So one would expect their output to be a bit more consistent. But their albums are actually rather spotty, making a collection like this especially welcome. The problem is that the material most likely to end up on such a collection isn't always the best they have to offer. The hit "Murder She Wrote," for example, is an obvious choice, yet it features some of Demus' most awkward toasting and Pliers' most off-key singing. By contrast, the self-produced "It Hot" is a gem, as is the swinging and tuneful "Boom Smilin'." The duo's cover of "Twist & Shout" is a fun novelty, while "War a Gwaan" brings a dreader perspective to bear -- but is marred, again, by a mismatch between the key Pliers sings in and the key the musicians play in. The strong performances do ultimately outnumber the weak, though, making this compilation a worthy acquisition for fans of dancehall and modern roots reggae.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 03:35
2 04:05
3 04:02
4 04:06
5 03:59
6 03:36
7 03:57
8 03:54
9 04:02
10 04:09
11 03:44
12 03:58
13 04:18
14 04:16
15 03:55
16 04:13
17 03:27
18 04:05
blue highlight denotes track pick