Various Life Goes In Circles: Sounds from the Talent Corporation 1974-1979

The community-oriented work of Tommy Cowan is profiled on this strong collection from Pressure Sounds. Formerly of rock steady-era hit-makers the Jamaicans, Cowan moved to work as a distributor and promotion man for Byron Lee. He then set up an organisation called the Talent Corporation to help aspiring singers and musicians benefit from his business acumen. Drawing from 1974 to ’79, there are a variety of roots styles in evidence, with focus on songwriting and careful if not cutting edge production. What is lacking in rhythmic experimentation is more than made up in the overall quality of the rhythms, the lyrics and what sounds like a bit more studio time per project than other producers might otherwise use. This compilation contains well-known artists such as Dennis Brown, the Abyssinians, Augustus Pablo and Ken Boothe who turns in an incongruously rootsy rendition of "Speak Softly Love” from The Godfather. This is one of those reggae compilations that surprises even the avid fan — after decades of reissues from the ’70s it’s still possible to come up with a worthy cache of undiscovered material. An added bonus to this collection are a handful of King Tubby versions that lean toward the Zen side of his oeuvre with lots of spacious delays that trail off ever so slowly. A well considered comp with lots of fresh material for avid collectors. (Pressure Sounds)