Various Hidden Treasures

Sugar Minott's Black Roots label is put in the spotlight here by the enterprising Easy Star Records label. Sugar was, and remains, an all-around artist who sings, writes and produces in both Jamaica and England. He helped define the '80s dancehall style and lent his skills to the work of many major artists such as Garnett Silk, Junior Delgado, Tenor Saw and Junior Reid. Hidden Treasures starts off very strong with tunes from the man himself (how did "Si Mi Ya" stay unreleased?), Barrington Levy, Barry Brown and Horace Andy, who gives us another great version of "Ain't no Sunshine." These first few tracks are great examples of the dancehall sound at this time, which reincorporated the dub techniques developed in the '70s back into vocal productions. The pace slows a bit in the middle of the comp. with some slack lover's style tunes. Hidden Treasures finishes strongly with a charmingly off-key Yami Bolo sound system shout-out and a comparatively ancient African Brothers (Sugar's original group) track from 1971. Almost half of Hidden Treasures' material is previously unreleased, and much of what has been unearthed is good. After 20 tracks, though, some songs are forgettable. (Easy Star)