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The Best of Gregory Isaacs, Vol. 2

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Album Review

Like its predecessor, this (obvious) follow-up to The Best of Gregory Isaacs, Vol. 1 was not a compilation of Isaacs hits at all, but mostly new recordings with a few recent singles added to sweeten the pot. In any case, events conspired to prove the accuracy of both sets' titles. The two albums were recorded in the mid-'70s under the aegis of Alvin Ranglin. As a former member of the Maytones, Ranglin had brought that group's gentle, rural flavor to his productions. However, both Best Of sets have a much tougher sound than much of Ranglin's previous work, a reflection of the militancy that ruled supreme at Channel One Studio, where the sets were recorded, combined with the Revolutionaries' own blistering sound. Ranglin tones the band down considerably, but there's still a sharpness to all the riddims and an edginess that bleeds through even the most lavish arrangements. Staking a claim in the no man's land that lies between rockers and lovers rock, the Revolutionaries agilely slide between two extremes — laid-back rockers and tough lovers rock define the sound, which is beautifully betwixt and between. Isaacs kicks off the set with his declaration of independence, "No Footstool," but a quartet of militant cultural numbers — a fierce "A Riot," a simmering "Jailer," a heartfelt "Village of the Under Privileged" and the powerful return-to-Africa-themed "Border" — fuels this set. All are classic Isaacs, with the latter featuring the sublime harmonies of the Tamlins, who backed the singer on both these sets. Intercut between these cultural masterpieces are equally superb romantic offerings, notably the evocative "Once Again" and the gorgeous "Tumbling Tears," the latter another massive hit. Like its predecessor, this is no career-spanning best-of set, but a superb album that does indeed include much of Isaacs' best work with Ranglin during the mid-'70s.

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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The Best of Gregory Isaacs, Vol. 2, Gregory Isaacs
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