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Reggae Chartbusters: The Series “Volumes 1 – 6″
30 September 2009, 15:00 Written by Chris Marling
(Albums)
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reggaeIf you’re a fan of classic reggae (and lets face it, who isn’t?), you’re probably sick to death of ‘various artists’ albums. And if you’re a fair-weather fan of classic reggae, you probably have no idea where to start, with so many cheapo compilations to choose from. Well, for a change, there’s something here for everyone.While, as a title, Reggae Chartbusters doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence, it actually does what it says on the tin. The first three volumes of this six CD series originally came out between 1969 and 1972, and are the real deal: they were released as 12-track compilations by the Trojan label to highlight the biggest Jamaican tunes of the time. Even well stocked fans of the genre will love these reissues, if only for the original artwork and the beauty of having these classic tunes in context from a fresh and worthwhile angle.Just from those initial 36 tracks you’re swamped with classics, many of which have had massive impact on music since: hits from the biggest names of the time such as Jimmy Cliff (‘Wonderful World, Beautiful People’ and ‘Vietnam’), The Upsetters (‘Return of Django’) and four from Desmond Decker (including ‘Israelites’ and ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’) ”“ plus tunes you’ll know, even if you don’t recognise the artists or titles: ‘Monkey Spanner’ (home to the classic “heavy monster sound” line that almost single-handedly made Bad Manners famous) and ‘Double Barrel’ (covered by Madness) from Dave and Ansell Collins; Tony Tribe’s ‘Red Red Wine’ (UB40); ‘Liquidator’ by Harry J Allstars (played pre-match across the country, most famously at Chelsea and West Brom); ‘Young, Gifted and Black’ by Bob and Marcia (first recorded by Nina Simone, and later Aretha Franklin); Nicky Thomas’ ‘Love of the Common People (Paul Young); ‘Monkey Man’ by The Maytalls (adopted by The Specials). I could go on”¦Volume three is clearly the weakest, and it is easy to see why the series was canned at that point. However, these reissues are a lot more than those 36 tracks. Each original houses an extra eight songs, while three ‘new’ compilations have been added to the mix, staying true to the original series by sticking to a particular time in Trojan’s history. That’s 100 tracks, with way more killer than filler (and a lot of the filler is made worthy by being funny).Extra tracks on the three original CDs include another Maytalls track cadged by The Specials (‘Pressure Drop’), four Bob Marley tunes (including ‘Soul Shakedown Party’ and ‘Trenchtown Rock’), ‘54-46 That’s My Number’ from The Maytals, ‘Rivers of Babylon’ by The Melodians (made famous by Boney M), Eric Donaldson’s ‘Cherry Oh Baby’ (The Rolling Stones and UB40), The Chosen Few’s beautifully realised take on ‘Theme From Shaft’ and the wonderfully inappropriate ‘Wet Dream’ from Max Romeo.And all this before we get onto the three ‘new’ CDs... If you haven’t already realised these are worth buying, I’m not sure it’s worth trying to convince you anymore, but here goes. More from the likes of Decker, Marley and Toots, plus plenty by the likes of Gregory Isaacs and John Holt: Dennis Brown’s ‘Money In My Pocket’; Ken Boothe’s cover of ‘Everything I Own’, Lloyd Parks’ ‘Mafia’; Errol Dunkley’s cover of ‘OK Fred’; Jacob Miller and Inner Circle’s ‘Tenement Yard’; Janet Kay’s version of ‘Lovin’ You’, plus several from Londoner Judge Dread (including ‘Big Seven’) ”“ proud owner of the title ‘most banned songs by the BBC of all time’. And I didn’t start on the comedy covers of everything from soul and country classics to show tunes. Just buy this stuff ”“ proper, proper classics.RECOMMENDED
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