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Wednesday, March 3, 1999

Staple Soul Foods

Posted By on Wed, Mar 3, 1999 at 12:00 AM

While Island Records has been churning out popular music for four decades, there was a time when the Island imprint was synonymous with great reggae music. In no uncertain terms, this compilation displays some of the best reggae Island Records had to offer during the ’70s – which is the same as saying it contains some of the best reggae music, period. Consider the power and the glory of a record label that housed Bob Marley and the Wailers, Toots and the Maytals, Steel Pulse and Third World, not to mention dub producers Lee "Scratch" Perry and Augustus Pablo. While there are a few scattered cuts from subsequent decades on this disc, the slick Caribbean pop of Luciano and the dancehall rap of Buju Banton cannot come close to the classic reggae fare represented by the likes of Junior Murvin’s "Police & Thieves" or Max Romeo’s "War Ina Babylon."

While only scratching the surface of Island’s spectacular catalogue, this retrospective contains timeless tracks such as Jimmy Cliff’s rudeboy hit "The Harder They Come," Black Uhuru’s seminal herb chant "Sensemilla" and the seductive lover’s rock of Gregory Issacs’ "Night Nurse." Interested in some early dub prototypes? Check out Lee Perry’s "Roast Fish & Cornbread." Primal Rastafarian philosophy disguised as roots-rock-reggae? Try "Marcus Garvey" by the immortal Burning Spear. With crucial versions of Marley’s "Exodus," Steel Pulse’s "Ku Klux Klan" and Third World’s "Now That We Found Love," Volume 5 should have you scurrying back to the Island in no time.


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