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Deeper Roots (The Best of the Meditations)

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Album Review

There's no arguing with the quality of the 20 songs on this compilation, stuffed as it is with popular numbers from the Meditations' initial heights back in the late '70s. However, the album's claim as being a best-of suggests the group's biggest hits are included, and too many are missing to justify that claim. The trio has a complicated early history; each member had songs released under their own names, with one or both future Meditations on backing vocals. The ample sleeve notes, taken from an extensive interview with singer Ansel Cridland, help make sense of the group's embryonic stage. Unfortunately, the album itself glosses over this crucial period while culling little from their debut album and masterpiece, Message From the Meditations. The trio's career continued apace, both as backing vocalists — harmonizing behind such superstars as the Wailers, Jimmy Cliff, and Gregory Isaacs — and across a clutch of their own crucial albums. When the Meditations sundered in the mid-'80s, they left behind a phenomenal back catalog of classic roots. Deeper Roots plumps mostly for the album versions of their hits. However, "Having Fun," "Quiet Woman," and their cover of Marley's "Nice Time" are all the Jamaican 12" versions, while "Woman Is Like a Shadow" is the original Jamaican 45. More nice additions for collectors are the original Lee Perry tapes of "No Peace" and "Think So." As a final incentive, the set includes a previously unreleased song from 1979, "Man Find It," along with a pair of numbers from Cridland's earlier vocal group, the Linkers. However, this doesn't quite make up for the omission of such classics as "(Rome) Longest Liver," "Book of History," and their smash hit "Carpenter Rebuild." Still, one has to start somewhere, and Deeper Roots provides a great introduction to this most seminal of acts.


Formed: 1975

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '70s, '80s

Even by Jamaican standards, the Meditations' early career is convoluted, and both Ansel Cridland and Danny Clarke's careers were already well underway before the pair linked up. Cridland, born in 1951, moved to Kingston as a child, and apprenticed as a jockey. However, he ended up working odd jobs, before deciding to make his career as a singer, and formed the vocal group the Linkers during the rocksteady era. The group's lineup was fluid, but regardless, the Linkers recorded nearly a dozen singles,...
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Deeper Roots (The Best of the Meditations), The Meditations
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