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Burning Spear: Reggae Greats

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Album Review

Although Reggae Greats would eventually be supplanted in the mid-'90s by Island's two-CD set Chant Down Babylon: The Island Anthology, until that point this compilation, along with Harder Than the Best, remained the best roundup of classic Burning Spear material from the roots era. Harder was originally released by Island in 1979, and annoyingly, when Reggae Greats followed five years later, it duplicated six of the earlier set's tracks. Marketing was mercenary even back in the "good old days." As to be expected, both sets drew exclusively from Spear's first four studio albums, a group of masterpieces whose run would be completed in 1980 by Hail H.I.M., which Island, of course, did not own the rights to. In any event, even standing on its own without the Harder collection, Reggae Greats was a superb set, including only the cream of Spear's songs. All of the tracks are classics, a number of which began life at Studio One but were brought to fruition in the roots era. During this period, Spear never released a record that was less than stellar, and so this compilation provides only a taste of the true magnificence of the band's canon. It's hard to imagine anyone who, having heard these songs, wouldn't be compelled to search out the albums from which they were drawn — and such an investigation would uncover a plethora of further excellent numbers. Once upon a time, this was a brilliant intro to the band, bringing Spear to a new generation of reggae fans.


Born: 01 March 1948 in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

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

One of the most brilliant and respected roots artists in Jamaica's history, Burning Spear (aka Winston Rodney) has unleashed a host of classic dread records over the years. Part Rastafarian preacher, part black historian, more than any other roots artist, Burning Spear has illuminated Rastafarianism in song, sharing his beliefs with an avid public. Born in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, in 1948, it was another St. Ann's native, Bob Marley, who set Rodney off to Kingston and a fateful meeting with Studio...
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Burning Spear: Reggae Greats, Burning Spear
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