Prince Blanco and the Rocksteady All-Stars Prince Blanco and the Rocksteady All-Stars

Despite rolling out two spot-on covers — Delroy Wilson’s classic "Better Must Come” and Bob Andy’s "Desperate Lover” — TO reggae stalwart Prince Blanco avoids doing a straight-up tribute on his recent self-titled EP. Instead, Blanco, aka Mark Neal, explores rock steady as the missing link to lover’s rock reggae, much like the foundation rocker riddims bridging ska and roots reggae. With his vocal style falling somewhere between Horace Andy’s falsetto and Ali Campbell’s (UB40) bright R&B croon, Blanco brings just enough pop sensibility to this set to draw the lovers in and keep the rude boys skankin’. But the excellent Rocksteady All-Stars Band — guitarist Tony Barrett, bassist Marc Devos and drummer Oneil Fuller — give these four well produced tracks their joyous, up-rockin’ bounce. However, it’s TO reggae veteran Bernie Pitter’s (a member of ’70s and ’80s reggae first wavers Truth & Rights and The 20th Century Rebels, plus the keyboardist of choice for touring heavyweights such as Gregory Isaacs and the Mighty Diamonds) signature organ/piano sound that’s pleasantly omnipresent in these songs, as well as adding an authentic roots vibe to this set. This one comes highly recommended. (MojoBrand)