Cool And Dread
The Itals
December 6, 2009

The Itals - Cool and Dread Track list
  1. Heathen
  2. Sing Farewell
  3. Easy Now
  4. Material Competition
  5. I Am What I Am
  6. What An Agony
  7. Peace And Love
  8. Chat With My Woman
  9. Jah Help Those
  10. Helpful Dub
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 4
This album from 1984 finds the Itals in a somewhat later stage in their history. Still with Keith Porter and Ronnie Davis as members, but here Lloyd Ricketts is replaced by David Isaacs on harmony singing. The year 1984 is in a period in reggae with a shift towards digital dancehall, Wayne Smith's "Under Mi Sleng Teng" - known as first digital dancehall hit - was released this same year.

This shift, however, was never absolute within the varied Jamaican reggae scene. The Itals continue more or less in their style of the decade before; roots harmony with live band music. The musicians include the Roots Radics along with other, quality musicians like Dwight Pinkney, Bongo Herman, and Dean Frazer. It's mainly roots reggae, but there are some early (pre-digital) dancehall influences noticeable.

The strength of "Cool And Dread", overall, is the quality of the songs, with strong melodies and a lively sound. It's quite typical of the Itals' sound, which some may find unspectacular, but the songs and music are strong enough to keep you entertained throughout most of the album.

This starts with the blazing opening track Heathen, to more mellow tracks like Easy Now and Peace And Love. Among the better tracks are further in my opinion the engaging I Am What I Am and the super-catchy Jah Help Those. The last song shows in part a dancehall vibe, is well-structured, and so catchy that it might just qualify for one of the best songs of 1984. Or is it better to say of the early 1980s?, or of the mid-1980s? well, you know what I mean.

Not just Jah Help Those, but several other songs on it make this album worth checking out, and not just for Itals fans.