Sugar Minott The Roots Lover 1978 - 1983

One of the greatest singers in Jamaican history is well served by this compilation, which covers a crucial point in his long career. All the finest elements of his work are abundantly represented: the almost slow-motion, rock hard grooves of the Roots Radics band, passionate and insightful lyrics and his smoky, impassioned voice. All tracks are stretched out to twelve-inch single length, providing some lengthy rumination in dub to match the ace vocal versions. Certain tunes point the way forward not only for dancehall, but for hip hop — "Superstar” has the kind of beat that KRS One was nicking early in his career with its economical snare and hi-hat groove and massive, up-tempo bass line. His lyrical skills are in full flower with "Africa,” a greeting to the beauty of African geography and its people. Other tunes are more reflective, the mournful sax in "Slice of the Cake” and the vivid sufferer’s anthem "No Vacancy,” which describes the desperation and sense of shame of a life in poverty. This was a dominant theme for Minott at the time as he tirelessly worked to set up and grow his Black Roots production concern to help ghetto youth get started in the music business. The remastering is wonderful on this; you probably won’t find a better roots reissue this year. (Moll-Selekta)