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Night Nurse

Gregory Isaacs

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Album Review

Although his 1981 album, More Gregory, was picked up for international distribution, Gregory Isaacs' 1982 release, Night Nurse, was his first to be designed for an audience outside Jamaica. Accordingly, Island Records head Chris Blackwell upgraded the overall sound quality, making this Isaacs' most professional-sounding record yet, and he brought in synthesizer player Wally Badarou to overdub keyboard parts on the tracks, making them less spare and distinguishing the arrangements more. Isaacs and his backup band, the Roots Radics, had a tendency to set up a groove and play, with only minor differences from one track to the next, but Badarou brought a different flavor to each song. Isaacs responded to his greater opportunity with a strong collection of compositions, starting with the title song, which pleaded for erotic medication with as much urgency as Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing." For the most part, romantic concerns occupied him, but "Hot Stepper," in which he sang of being wanted by the authorities, unfortunately anticipated the incarceration that would derail his career shortly, and "Material Man" was a savage denunciation of the wealthy, even if it was rendered in Isaacs' characteristically even-toned voice over the medium-tempo track. Night Nurse had just enough variety to make it a cohesive album and not just a collection of singles, and with Island's promotional muscle it brought Isaacs deserved recognition, rising into the U.K. Top 40 and attracting accolades in the U.S. The 2002 reissue adds more than 22 minutes' worth of bonus material, all of it dub versions of Isaacs' songs, including an eight-minute instrumental extension of "Cool Down the Pace," a song in which the unhurried Isaacs asks his companion not to dance so fast. The result is to make one of the 1980s' best reggae albums that much better.

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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Night Nurse, Gregory Isaacs
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