Various Artists

Vintage Vocals

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Don't let the ugly-duckling packaging and obscure label fool you into thinking that this is some sort of second-rate collection of disposable reggae by no-name artists. True, the production standards are uneven, but that's because these 18 tracks were recorded at various times between 1972 and 1984, and at various legendary Jamaican studios, including Channel One, Harry J and Lee Perry's Black Ark. There are performances by such established singers as Bob Andy, Jimmy Riley and the Gaylads (whose "Wicked Preacher Man" is one of the album's highlights) as well as songs by relative unknowns like Paul Hayden, Orville "Woody" Wood and the Aces (whose "Wiseman" is another of the album's highlights). Inevitably, there are a couple of clunkers -- Bob Andy's "Congratulations" is a birthday song set, inexplicably, in a creepy minor key -- but overall the quality of this collection is consistently quite high. Well worth purchasing.

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