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In Memoriam: 1941-2006

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Album Review

In Memoriam: 1941-2006 was Desmond Dekker's last studio recording, tracked in London in January of 2004 with a more than capable band (Steve L. Roberts, Aubery Mulrain, Eddy Thornton, Leroy Green and Michael Rose) behind him. Dekker's voice is strong and clear, and the production by Delroy Williams is spotless, making this technically one of Dekker's cleanest-sounding albums, which is either good or bad, depending on one's point of view. Dekker tackles his classic hits (most of them slowed from ska speed to a more dignified reggae pace), including an elegant "007 (Shanty Town)," a less muddy "Israelites," a fascinatingly nuanced "It Mek," and a relatively ragged take on Jimmy Cliff's "You Can Get It if You Really Want," and he does them with an assured grace and confidence. The problem is that there's nothing quite like those old Jamaican two-track recording studios of thirty or forty years ago when Dekker first cut these songs, and no matter how state of the art the tracks on In Memoriam sound, they seem emotionally cast in ice compared to the loose and ramshackle ambiance of the Leslie Kong sides. That doesn't make In Memoriam a bad album. It isn't, and in many ways Dekker never sounded better, but it remains an addendum purchase, while the original versions of these songs are absolutely essential. That these are Dekker's last recordings, and that he still was in full command of his voice at these sessions, makes In Memoriam a special release, however, and it's well worth a listen. Just don't skip the original recordings.


Born: 16 July 1942 in Kingston, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Probably no other Jamaican artist has brought more international acclaim to his island home than Desmond Dekker, barring, of course, Bob Marley, but Dekker came first. Most people's introduction to the island's unique musical sound came via the singer's many hits, most notably "Israelites" and "0.0.7. (Shanty Town)." Needless to say, he was even more influential in his homeland. Born Desmond Dacres in Kingston, Jamaica, on July 16, 1942, the star-to-be was orphaned in his teens. Left to earn a...
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In Memoriam: 1941-2006, Desmond Dekker
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