Album review
Rare Gems
Sugar Minott
Easy Star Records

Tracking list

  1. King Of Kings
  2. Mr. Fisherman
  3. What A Feeling
  4. The More We Are Together
  5. Half A Love
  6. My Whole World
  7. Give My Love To You
  8. Conscious Lover
  9. Watch Your Back
  10. Send Come Call Me
  11. Not For Sale
  12. Something Wrong
  13. Boss Boss
  14. It Was Good It Was Bad
  15. Gambling
  16. Tears You Cry
  17. Can't Take No Fight
  18. Do It Sweet
  19. All Things Bright
  20. Mind Blowing Decisions
  21. So Much Trouble
  22. Chant
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : 5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 4/5

The New York based label Easy Star Records has established itself as a major independent record label with its quality releases on several 7" singles and a batch of excellent albums. From their first release, the excellent compilation set "Easy Star Volume 1" to the awesome "All I Have Is Love" album, they have set a standard with highlights being the two Black Roots "Hidden Treasures" compilations and the 1979 Sugar Minott classic "Ghetto-ology + Dub".
"Rare Gems" is the fourth Black Roots release on Easy Star Records. The disc collects some 22 hard to find Sugar Minott classics from the period 1979 to 1986, many of which were never released outside Jamaica until now. At that time Sugar was at his peak as an artist and producer, recording not only roots tunes, but also sweet lovers rock flavored songs and stinging dancehall tunes. It's impossible to overstate his role in the history of reggae music and that fact makes this release ever more precious. Every aspect of his talent is revealed here and it's strange that it took so long releasing these songs for a wider audience.
What can we say about these songs? It's hard to give you standout tracks, because all of them are classics. From his moving rendention of the Motown classic My Whole World (Is Empty Without You), which he transforms from a love song to a wailing praising tune, to the Bob Marley influenced So Much Trouble, you're treated to A-Class reggae. The latter song is drawn from the 1984 Wackies album 'Wicked Ago Feel It' and is a true gem from Sugar's vaults. Send Come Call Me, also known as 'Mix Up', Do It Sweet and Gambling are wicked early 80s dancehall tunes. On the other hand he comes up with seductive lovers tunes such as Tears You Cry, What A Feeling, Give My Love To You and the killer tune Half A Love.
All tracks here are produced by Sugar himself and most of the songs are self penned tunes. He only used the best musicians available. Check out this list : Sly & Robbie, Leroy Wallace, Santa Davis, Style Scott, Flabba Holt, Elroy Bailey, Chinna Smith, Bingy Bunny, Dwight Pinkney, Jackie Mittoo, Steely, Robbie Lyn, Tony Asher, Touter Harvey, Skully Simms, Jah Bunny, Dean Fraser, Nambo and Chico Chin. The tracks were recorded and mixed at Channel One, Promotion Studios, East Street, King Tubby's and Wackies.
Full marks to Easy Star releasing "Rare Gems", which is a Sugar Minott compilation put together with care and craftmanship and is a joy from start to finish.

Teacher & Mr. T.