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Best of Volumes One and Two

Gregory Isaacs

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Album Review

Originally released as two separate albums, the Heartbeat label now brings the pair together on one fabulous disc. And taken alongside My Number One and Love Is Overdue, this brings together virtually the entire lexicon of recordings Isaacs cut with producer Alvin Ranglin during the mid- to late '70s. Best Of is a bit of a misnomer, even in its day, suggesting both volumes compiled hit singles. In reality, the records mostly featured new material, with only a few recent chart busters thrown in for good measure, but events conspired to prove the accuracy of the titles. Volume One boasts the mighty "My Number One," which had already torn up the Jamaican chart, the seductive "Special Guest," the rootsy perfection of "No Speech," the exquisite pain of "Tear Drops," a sublime cover of "Willow Tree," the haunting "Cool You" — in fact, there's not a song on the record that didn't deserve single status. Out of the aforementioned six, four were massive hits and swiftly gained classic status. Volume Two is fired by a quartet of tough cultural songs — the fierce "A Riot," the simmering "Jailer," a heartfelt "Village of the Under Privileged," and the powerful return-to-Africa-themed "Border" — intercut with lovers offerings, notably the evocative "Once Again" and the gorgeous "Tumbling Tears," another classic. Both albums were recorded with the Revolutionaries, whose percolating beats (Sly & Robbie, of course) power the album, with the rest of the band laying down a musical accompaniment that shifts between lovers rock and rockers style, that perfectly backs Isaacs own emotive, yet gentle, vocals. Ranglin keeps it all simmering, creating a pair of albums that indeed featured some of the singer's best.

Biography

Born: 15 July 1951 in Kingston, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of Jamaica's most beloved vocalists who was as pertinent in dancehalls as he was in bedrooms, Gregory Isaacs' career stretched over 30 years. From the heady days of reggae through lovers rock, a genre he virtually invented, his talent reached into the modern age. Born in the Fletcher's Land area of Kingston, Jamaica, on July 15, 1951, Isaacs arrived in the music business via the talent show circuit, a tried and true formula for many of the island's budding singing stars. Byron Lee was the first...
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Best of Volumes One and Two, Gregory Isaacs
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