Various Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae

When old timers release updated versions of their hits of yesteryear the results can often be disastrous (read: Merle Haggard with Jewel). There is no need to cringe at word of this compilation, however, as band leader Ernest Ranglin and arranger Lynn Taitt have ensured that these new versions of old rocksteady classics are every bit as golden as the originals. Recorded at Kingston's Tuff Gong and released in tandem with the documentary film of the same name, Rocksteady gathers an unprecedented group of '60s musicians together to recreate one of Jamaica's shortest-lived yet influential genres. Many artists offer faithful versions of their bygone hits: Dawn Penn on "No No No," Hopeton Lewis on "Take it Easy" and Derrick Morgan on "Tougher Than Tough." And on numbers where the original singer is no longer with us, an able contemporary fills in, such as Ken Boothe offering a heartfelt tribute to Desmond Dekker on "Shanty Town." Any way you cut it, Rocksteady is sure to spark new interest in a music that has, up until now, only enjoyed a cult following outside Jamaica. (Moll-Selekta)