Reggae Legends Vol. 2
Gregory Isaacs
4CD Box Set
March 18, 2014

Track list
  1. Private Beach Party
  2. Wish You Were Mine
  3. Feeling Irie feat. Carlene Davis
  4. Bits And Pieces
  5. Let Of Supm
  6. No Rushings
  7. Better Plant Some Loving
  8. Special To Me
  9. Got To Be In Tune
  10. Promise Is A Comfort
  1. Red Rose For Gregory
  2. Teachers Plight (12" Promo Mix)
  3. Break The Date
  4. Rumours (12" Hit Mix)
  5. Slow Down
  6. All I Need Is You
  7. Rough Neck (12" Street Mix) feat. The Mighty Diamonds
  8. Intimate Potential
  9. Me No In A Dat
  10. Closer Than A Brother
  11. Mind Yu Dis (12" Manners Mix)
CD 3 - I.O.U.
  1. Report To Me
  2. Whatís The Matter
  3. Too Good To Be True
  4. Fall For You Again
  5. I.O.U.
  6. Canít Make A Slip
  7. Hard Road To Travel feat. Mutabaruka
  8. Express Love
  9. Fatal Attraction
  10. Break The Ice
  11. Easy Life
  12. Big All Round
  13. Jealously feat. Jimmy Cliff
  1. Victim
  2. Surrender Your Love
  3. Rosie
  4. Mr. Music Man
  5. Special Someone
  6. Loving You Ainít Easy
  7. Howdy Ho
  8. Welcome To My Room
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4/5
Gregory Isaacs had a successful career of several decades recording countless albums and singles for numerous producers. He started singing duets and in groups in the late sixties with moderate success, before he started his own label African Museum in the seventies with Errol Dunkley. In order to finance his label, he continued to work with other producers such as Winston "Niney The Observer" Holness, Gussie Clark, Lloyd Campbell, and Alvin "GG" Ranglin for the rest of the 70's. His early recordings were responsible for the development of his singing style, love ballads with his cool relaxed nasal style, as well as his ease with songs about social protest. Besides the successes there were also problems with an imprisonment and drug abuse, something that overshadowed his massive career and was probably the reason he recorded material for anyone that was willing to pay him money for it. Alone - out of all reggae's star performers - Gregory Isaacs did maintain his position within Kingston's notorious music industry. He kept on recording and performing until his sad dead in 2010 and will for always be remembered as one of reggae's finest vocalists.

Augustus Clarke nicknamed 'Gussie' started out cutting dubplates in the seventies. When barely 20 he produced the U Roy tune "The Higher The Mountain" and then Big Youth's excellent "Screaming Target" album. During the seventies he recorded many of the greatest names in reggae including Leroy Smart, I Roy, Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown and Augustus Pablo, to name a few. For his recording sessions he mainly took his artists to the renown Channel One studio. In 1987 he opened his own state-of-the-art studio called "Music Works" on 56 Slipe Road where Gussie Clarke developed his signature Music Works sounds of the 80's and 90's. The first single to emerge from his own studio was Gregory Isaacs' Rumors, which became a massive hit, as did "Telephone Love", JC Lodge's big club hit across the same riddim.

Gussie had abandoned his solid, rather traditional sound and now utilized a high-tech computerized sound, which instantly proved very successful. Also Gussie's pairing of deejay star Shabba Ranks with female singers as well as the combination with Home T and Cocoa Tea were huge successes. Thus Gussie Clarke established himself as the leading producer and hitmaker in the late eighties and early nineties. Throughout the mid-nineties he concentrated on building a new studio, Music Works II, and only occasionally attracted attention with his production work, like for example with Freddie McGregor's "Rumours" which topped the UK reggae charts in 1997. His modern producing style appealed to many fans and influenced a lot of producers then and in the years to come.

From the Greensleeves vaults we get treated to three original "Music Works" albums collected together in reproduction sleeves that give an extensive overview of the Cool Rulers 80's stint with producer Gussie Clarke. The fourth disc "Victim" is a solid 1987 Redman produced album and includes the hits Rosie and Mr. Music Man, the latter being a fine do-over of "Swing and Dine" from The Melodians. A rather unknown album that was sadly overlooked when it hit the streets in 1987. Excellent reissue!
The first disc is the 1985 "Private Beach Party" album, the return to form for the legendary Cool Ruler. Gussie Clarke employed singer-songwriter Carlton Hines to write several of the songs on the album, and the musicians featured here include Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Lloyd Parks, and Willie Lindo. The album is regarded as one of the artist's finest sets and features a duet with Carlene Davis (on Feeling Irie). For some reason they haven't included the combination tune with Dennis Brown, Let off Supm, instead they used Gregory's solo track of the tune.
Things would get bigger and better for Gregory and Gussie in 1988. That year saw the release of "Red Rose For Gregory", an album that became one of the Cool Ruler's most successful albums containing four of his biggest hits. First there's the massive hit Rumours. The riddim track was used nuff nuff times with varying success. Some state that the success of that track has overshadowed the other tunes on the album. Further hit action came from Teacher's Plight, Mind Yu Diss and Rough Neck, all here in full 12" mixes.
A year later Gregory hit once more with his third Music Works album called I.O.U., a strictly lovers rock album that included one conscious tune called Hard Road To Travel, a rootical effort he did with Mutabaruka and the dancehall flavoured tune Big All Around. The set featured the hit singles Report To Me and Too Good To Be True.

Excellent box set!