It’s always a bit of a challenge reviewing ‘older’ music. Because you’re looking retrospectively at something which was created a considerable time ago, it’s tricky to try and imagine what the time was like, and what the context was like, when it first came out.While there clearly is an argument that good music is timeless, that doesn’t get away from the fact that reviewing an album of tracks from the a time when I wasn’t even born is a tough task…
That’s what I’ll try to do here though: and actually I’m delighted to be able to say that the album in particular is one choc-full of music I can happily describe as timeless.
Having looked at the track listing on the back of the CD case, it was always clear this was going to be a bit of a classic album. Artists such as Delroy Wilson, Ken Boothe and The Conquerors feature heavily, giving you a really good feel for what you can expect from the record.
There are a handful of real highlights on the album: the first for me is the brilliant Lady With The Starlight from Ken Boothe. It’s just such a gorgeous, low-down and pared-back groove which suits perfectly Boothe’s vocal.
Put Yourself In My Place from Delroy Wilson is another gem here. Much more sparky in terms of the ska / two-tone-esque style to the record, there’s a surprisingly funky feel to this track which contrasts with the lyrical content nicely. Wilson’s vocal as always is stunning, and while there could be a stronger bassline, you can’t complain about this effort at all.
I’m also a big fan of the reproduction of the recording of a lot of the tracks here. Their original, slightly scratchy and far-from-sharp, recordings have been kept, which really does add to the overall feel of the album. It’s certainly a massive part of it’s charm. A great example is Let’s Have Some Fun by Delano Stewart, which is distinctly muffled (even through good quality headphones) and is all the better for that.
As is the nature with compilation albums (and especially the risk with reggae compilations), a lot of the tracks here are relatively similar: but it depends on the listener as to whether that’s a good or bad thing. It’s not an issue for me at all, with this style of reggae still being one I’m more than happy to listen to on a daily basis.
Overall this is a really tidy little compilation, one which gives a good blast-from-the-past and will keep you bouncing along for weeks. Well worth giving it a spin.