Desmond Dekker

You Can Get It If You Really Want

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It took two years for Desmond Dekker & the Aces to follow up their first British hit, 1967's "007 (Shanty Town)," but once they did, there was no holding them back. The chart-topping "Israelites" was first off the mark, charting in March 1969, followed by "It Mek" in June. "Pickney Gal" opened the quintet's account in the new year, with their cover of Jimmy Cliff's "You Can Get It If You Really Want" completing their run of masterpieces. Released in 1969, This Is Desmond Dekker was obviously compiled before "Israelites" broke big, which explains its omission from a set that bundled together the group's earlier Jamaican hits. And oddly, producer Leslie Kong didn't include the number one smash on this set, either. Instead, You Can Get It If You Really Want, titled after the band's latest single, rounded up another slew of the group's recent Jamaican singles, including two other British hits. The infectious, bouncy "Perseverance," the rousing "Coomyah," the romantic "You Got Soul," the highly syncopated yet delicate "Polka Dot," and the Latin-flavored "Get Up Little Suzie" had all spun successfully on 45 back home in Jamaica. Fashions would shift dramatically in later years, with the lush orchestral string-laced arrangements of this era no longer finding favor with reggae fans, who grew to prefer the more "authentic" sounds of Jamaican music. Thus, beyond the U.K. hits, the rest of this set has been virtually ignored by the reissue labels. But back in the day, this album was adored by myriad reggae fans who appreciated Dekker's phenomenal songwriting, the numbers' lavish arrangements, the phenomenal backings, and the group's gorgeous harmonies. This was the set the cemented Dekker & the Aces' international reputation, with a brilliant mix of upbeat themes and luxurious sound.

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