Desmond Dekker You Can Get it if You Really Want: The Definitive Collection

There are many Desmond Dekker compilations but none so far as extensive as this one. 59 songs from a Jamaican welder turned superstar trace Dekker’s career from cutting his teeth on ska, taking rocksteady rude boy anthems international ("007”) and giving the British charts their first ever reggae #1 with "Israelites.” As to be expected, the material here is heavily weighted with Dekker’s pre-1973 output — his richest creative and commercial period — with only a taste of his music over the last three decades. But those pre-’73 cuts are pure gold. Rarities like "Jeserine” show Dekker and band delivering feverous ska with the same rawness and intensity of the early Ray Charles Atlantic records, infectious hits like "Pickney Girl,” "Coomyah,” "007,” "King of Ska,” "Sing a Little Song” and the title track are some of the best music ever to come out of Jamaica; and "Israelites” is no doubt one of pop’s greatest tracks. Where this compilation really excels is in giving enough of a taste of Dekker’s later output to whet the listener’s appetite for more, either for listening enjoyment or just plain curiosity, without getting bogged down. "Moving On,” produced by Robert Palmer in 1981, for instance, finds Dekker openly experimenting with a mix of styles — shuffle drum beats, barrelhouse piano, and red-lined B3 organ — yet it still feels like classic Dekker. The same can’t be said, however, for the other Palmer track here, "Hot City,” which features synths doing all sorts of things synths should never do. But, hey, at least it’s interesting. (Trojan)