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Island Presents: Roots


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  • Liner Note Author: Michael DeKoningh.
  • Jamaica was at a dangerous and combustible spot as the 1970s rolled in, beset by class disparity, crushing poverty, increasingly barbed friction between the country's two political parties, and violence that amounted to open warfare in the streets, all of which fermented and came together creatively inside the island's maverick music industry, resulting in what was undoubtedly Jamaica's greatest pop music era, the era of true roots reggae. Poised to export all this to the rest of the world was Chris Blackwell's fledgling Island Records imprint, which grew in time into a major player in the rock market, but back then, it was all roots. This two-disc set mines Island's impressive '70s Jamaican catalog, and if not everything collected here is necessarily an "anthem," there's a nice balance between the known and the unknown, with iconic cuts like Burning Spear's "Marcus Garvey," the Congos' "Congo Man," and Junior Murvin's "Police & Thieves" brushing up against lesser-known tracks by Pablo Moses, Ras Midas, Hosbah Lawrence, and others that have seldom, if ever, been compiled on CD before, all of which makes this a nice introduction to the true Golden Age of Jamaican pop music. ~ Steve Leggett
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