Max Romeo

Wet Dream: The Best of Max Romeo

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Max Romeo has spent his career both avoiding and embracing the legacy of his first single, the explicit "Wet Dream," which was virtually ignored when it was released in Jamaica in 1966, but thanks to the skinheads, became a huge and lasting hit in England, where it served as a sort of anthem to the dream life of thousands of young males. When pressed, Romeo insists the song is about fixing a leaky roof, but few outside of the Carpenter's Union could possibly believe him. Produced by Bunny Lee over a hold-me-Jack rhythm, "Wet Dream" gave Romeo a reputation and a recording career, and thankfully, he made the best of both. This collection can't truly be called a "best-of," since it contains nothing from his greatest album, the classic War Ina Babylon, produced by Lee "Scratch" Perry, but it does provide a nice overview of everything else, collecting three early tracks with Perry (including the baffling "Three Blind Mice"), several with Bunny Lee, and two with Niney (including the wonderful "Rasta Bandwagon"). Romeo turned increasingly to righteous themes as his career proceeded, but he has never truly escaped the reputation for slackness that "Wet Dream" earned him, and when dancehall hit Jamaica, with its attendant love of shock tactics, the crasser side of Romeo was due for a revival, illustrated on this collection by the inclusion of 1995's dancehall remake of "Wet Dream," produced by Tapper Zukie. Romeo's War Ina Babylon remains an essential purchase, followed closely by Open the Iron Gate, while this anthology gives you everything else.

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