Saturday, September 3, 2011

We Remember Gregory Isaacs

The reggae world lost a legend when Gregory Isaacs past away last year. Isaacs, a the man who placed his golden voice upon such reggae classics like “Night Nurse” and “Mr. Brown,” has a wonderful legacy and numerous records in print, just rip for discovery.

Producer Dean Fraser began looking for ways to bring Isaacs back into the spotlight but very little money to do so. But after laying down some musical tracks from Isaac’s repertoire, Fraser put the word out to some of reggae music’s best-known purveyors of today’s sound and found the response overwhelming.

The result is We Remember Gregory Isaacs, a 16-track compilation that is surprisingly good and a heartfelt tribute to this remarkable vocalist.

The entrants do a good job of following Isaacs’ smooth delivery while managing to retain a bit of their own style in their song selection.

Tarrus Riley does a splendid job of introducing the set with “Front Door” and Chevaughn gets the nod for best contribution on “Red Rose For Gregory.”

But it is not the contributor’s vocals that’s is the issue: it’s the music. Fraser claims to have most of the tracks completed in one day, and from the sound of it, I believe him.

There’s very little organic sound on any of the tracks, making the instrumentation sound cheesy and fey. After a while, things get to be a bit same-y underneath those impressive covers, and the second-disc of instruments is completely pointless.

As modern reggae offerings is considered, We Remember Gregory Isaacs isn’t a bad sampling of reggae’s current tastemakers, but as is true with any tribute album, it’s never quite as good as the real thing.

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