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Reggae - Released January 1, 1968 | Trojan Records

Distinctions Songlines Five-star review
Following hot on the heels of their Jamaican debut album, 1967's 007 (Shanty Town), Desmond Dekker & the Aces were ready for Action! the following year. Like its predecessor, Action! bundled up another slew of the quintet's recent hits, as did its successor, 1969's The Israelites. All were released only in Jamaica, and the fact that "007" reappeared on the Action! set tells you just how seriously producers took the album market on the island. Even so, with its mix of rocksteady and early reggae hits, Action! has remained a popular album, and has been reissued internationally on several occasions. Now it's been paired with the equally well recycled Intensified set. In any event, taken together, it's a solid selection of songs, heavy on the hits, but that's to be expected, as virtually everything Dekker & the Aces released pre-Leslie Kong's death in 1971 was, and by and large the group's albums merely rounded them all up on long-players. There are a few odd omissions -- no "Pickney Gal," for example, or "You Can Get It If You Really Want" -- and even stranger, "Israelites" appears under the peculiar title "Poor Me Israelites." However, all self-respecting fans already have "Pickney" and "Get It" in their collections. So what's of more interest here are the less recycled numbers, like the ethereal "Fu Man Chu," the demanding "Gimme Gimme," and the indeed memorable "Unforgettable," better known as "Bongo Gal." Unlike that latter, "Gimme" and "Fu" never saw British release, and seem not to have even received proper Jamaican ones, which makes their appearance here a boon for collectors. And "My Lonely World," which features an American R&B-styled spoken word break, and the emotive "Personal Possession" rarely turn up on the reissue shelves. That said, so often has the bulk of this set appeared that many fans will have to think hard before parting with their money, but for new aficionados, this is an excellent place to start. © Jo-Ann Greene /TiVo
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Reggae - Released February 11, 2008 | Trojan Records

Desmond Dekker has been well served by the reissue labels, with the shelves buckling under all the compilations dedicated to his music. The bulk, however, invariably draw from the same limited pool of songs, with most ignoring the singer's early years entirely. The two-CD You Can Get It If You Really Want: The Definitive Collection is pretty much the only compilation that provides a proper career retrospective, with the rest drawing exclusively from his 1967-1971 recordings. Israelites: The Best of Desmond Dekker, while no substitute for You Can Get It If You Really Want, at least dips back into Dekker's early years. One of the best one-disc roundups around, the compilation top-loads the set with Dekker's international hits (the only one missing is 1975's "Sing a Little Song"), with the other 20 tracks drawn willy-nilly from the Kong years (1963-1971). There's no attempt at chronology -- and ska numbers rub shoulders with reggae tracks -- nor any sense of sequencing, so the tempos and moods shift dramatically at times. By and large, though, the set will sate most casual Dekker collectors, with the selector having worked hard to include most modern-day fans' favorite numbers. Those looking for more should purchase You Can Get It If You Really Want, but for those seeking just the hits and a decent overview, this set is the perfect solution. © Jo-Ann Greene /TiVo
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Reggae - Released March 23, 2015 | Trojan Records

Desmond Dekker was the first Jamaican reggae artist to break through in the United States, when his powerful and anthemic tune "Israelites" rose to number nine on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart in 1969. While "Israelites" was the first time most Americans had ever heard of Desmond Dekker, he was already a major star at home, cutting well-mannered ska singles (such as "Honour Your Mother and Father") since 1963 before moving on to more full-bodied rocksteady and reggae sounds with pointed and thoughtful lyrics as the decade wore on, scoring hits like "007 (Shanty Town)" (featured prominently on the soundtrack of the film The Harder They Come), "Rude Boy Train," "It Gotta Be So," and "The Song We Used to Sing (Where Did It Go)." 007: The Best of Desmond Dekker is a two-disc collection that features 25 classic hits from Dekker's catalog, as well as another 25 rare and unreleased sides including alternate takes of some of the artist's fan favorites of the '60s and '70s. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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Reggae - Released July 28, 2000 | Trojan Records

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Reggae - Released January 21, 2005 | Trojan Records

What Desmond Dekker fans really want is a comprehensive compilation of the legend's back catalog, but they've been disappointed time and time again. However, You Can Get It If You Really Want: The Definitive Collection finally delivers the goods with a two-CD, career-spanning overview. The set begins at the beginning, with Dekker's 1963 debut single, "Honour Your Mother and Father," then charts his progress across the ska years and into rocksteady. As usual, there's a bit of scrimping on the former era to make room for the rude boy icon who emerged in the latter. Reggae's arrival created a rough break with the past for many producers, but not Dekker's mentor, Leslie Kong, and the set flows seamlessly from rocksteady into reggae. By now Dekker had begun his climb to international stardom, with disc two opening with his 1970 hit "Pickney Gal." The singles just kept coming, with the title track another international smash. In 1971, Kong died of a heart attack; the second half of disc two is given over to the aftermath, as Dekker tried to regain his footing and his international standing. He never really did, but never faded away entirely either, with occasional new albums, a stream of compilations, and exultant live performances helping to maintain his reputation. While this is a definitive overview, it's not a complete collection of Dekker's work, not even of the Kong years. The omission of "Bongo Gal" is surprising, the lack of "Writing on the Wall" perhaps a matter of taste, but inevitably a few of your faves will be missing as well. So, not the perfect collection, but pretty close. © Jo-Ann Greene /TiVo
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Reggae - Released March 15, 2010 | Trojan Records

Rudy Got Soul: The Complete Early Years 1963-1968 chronicles Desmond Dekker's first single from 1963, "Honour Your Father and Mother," through his enormously successful Jamaican hits recorded in the mid- to late '60s with the Aces. The disc highlights the outset of rocksteady with the tracks "Hey Grandma," "Music Like Dirt," "Rudie Got Soul," "Sabotage," "Rude Boy Train," and the James Bond-inspired "007." These are the tracks that initially made him a star in Jamaica, then the U.K., and finally emerging as an internationally celebrated artist who hit it big in the U.S. with the Israelites in 1969. Highly recommended. © Al Campbell /TiVo
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Reggae - Released August 19, 2016 | Trojan Records

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Reggae - Released August 8, 2013 | Trojan Records

Most Americans over the age of 45 remember "Israelites," the international hit single that made Desmond Dekker a household name in the 1960s and gave the U.S. its first taste of Jamaican ska. Your average old school ska fan has worn out more than one copy of "Honour Your Mother and Your Father," "007 (Shanty Town)," and "Pickney Gal." But beyond those familiar tunes, most of Dekker's catalog is pretty obscure. This generous mid-priced two-fer won't satisfy completists (inexplicably, such gems as "Keep a Cool Head" and "Rude Boy Train" are missing), but its 50 tracks will probably be enough for most ska lovers. It includes obvious faves like "Israelites" and "007 (Shanty Town)," two versions of the chart-topping "It Mek," and, toward the end, a charming set of 1990s remakes that finds Dekker still in excellent voice -- his new renditions of "King of Ska," "This Woman," and "Young Generation" stand up remarkably well to the original versions, and there is also a very fun ska arrangement of the calypso chestnut "Jamaica Farewell." The occasional clunker notwithstanding, this set can be considered essential. © Rick Anderson /TiVo
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Reggae - Released June 29, 2015 | Trojan Records

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Reggae - Released January 1, 1969 | Trojan Records

Although newcomers should be directed to Trojan's 1997 best-of, The Original Rude Boy, among the many retrospectives, fans of Dekker and original Jamaican ska, rocksteady, and founding reggae are well served by this narrowly focused CD. Ostensibly a reissue of his 1969 U.K. LP of 1966-1968 recordings, which had been rushed out on the heels of his breakout number one hit there that March, "The Israelites" (more surprising, the song hit the U.S. Top 10, exposing American masses to reggae, too!), this CD takes the collection's 12 cuts and adds 19 more from 1966-1968. At 31 songs and 80 minutes, it makes for a thorough, pleasing guide to the Jamaican legend's productive rocksteady mid-period. A renowned writer who again became a British star when the Specials covered This Is Desmond Dekker's classic opener, "0.0.7 (Shanty Town)" (a 1967 U.K. number 14 later made famous in The Harder They Come soundtrack), this presents a wealth of his finest compositions, all set to the soothing midtempo style so prominent in later-'60s Kingston. Relaxing but never mellow, and often addressing the island's "Rude Boy" gang violence and poverty, Dekker uses his pleasant but deep, high-ranged voice and languorous timing to complement the swaying, offbeat rhythms. Dekker may have given the world Bob Marley (by introducing his nobody coworker Robert to his producer in 1961), but his own canon remains significant too, and this is a highly agreeable slice at a great value. © Jack Rabid /TiVo
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Reggae - Released January 1, 1993 | Trojan Records

One of those ideas which look great on paper, but disappoint in reality. The concept of pairing the Jamaican singing legend with the Specials is indeed brilliant, unfortunately it occurred around a dozen years too late. So this is not the adrenaline fueled two toners of yore, but a more sedate version circa 1993, accompanied by a quartet of session men. King of Kings is not a total abortion, however, the thought of what could have been weights heavily on the final result. The band run through a dozen Jamaican gems from the 1960s, hits from the likes of Eric Morris, Derrick Morgan, Justin Hines, Jimmy Cliff, Theo Beckford, Hopeton Lewis, and Dekker himself. It all swings along pleasantly enough, but few of the tracks exude enough energy to really grab one's attention. Not surprisingly, one of the stand-outs is Dekker's own "King of Ska," where everyone goes hell for leather; equally good is a smoking version of "Carry Go Bring Come." Elsewhere the bland arrangements and slick playing bleed the lifeblood right out of the songs. Dekker valiantly attempts resuscitation, and his own performances saves the album from flat lining, but it still remains on life support. © Jo-Ann Greene /TiVo
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Reggae - Released September 29, 2014 | Sanctuary Records

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Reggae - Released April 4, 2012 | Blue Mahoe

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Reggae - Released January 1, 1970 | Trojan Records

Desmond Dekker unleashed a flood of fine singles across the '60s and early '70s, all under the aegis of producer Leslie Kong. Taking a chance on an untried youngster barely into his teens, who'd already been shown the door by Coxsone Dodd and Duke Reid, Kong nurtured Dekker to international stardom, only to die suddenly in 1971, two years after the singer's breakthrough. In those nine years, however, the singer and producer recorded a canon of music that remains untarnished by time, a vast catalog that continues to enrapture new generations of fans. Inevitably with time, lazy labels tended to pick from an ever-shrinking pot of songs, making for a growing pile of bewildering compilations that all seemed to feature many of the same numbers -- which is what made Intensified such a treat. Light on the hits, lighter still on the heavily represented songs, this compilation hones in chiefly on the rocksteady and early reggae age, making it a must for all Dekker fans. Along the way, your "Problems" will melt away, bouncing off the irrepressible reggae rhythms and the Aces' bounding harmonies. It may be "Too Much Too Soon" for those looking for yet another hits comp, but with bubbly numbers like this, reggae aficionados will be in heaven. Rocksteady fans, meanwhile, will be boarding the "Rude Boy Train," while those looking for the path to salvation can read the "Writing on the Wall." The emotive "My Lonely World," the lovely, lilting repatriation number "Pretty Africa," and the jubilant title track are all classics, amidst an entire album of less familiar numbers that are all their equals. A wonderful set. . © Jo-Ann Greene /TiVo
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Reggae - Released January 1, 1970 | Sanctuary Records

It took two years for Desmond Dekker & the Aces to follow up their first British hit, 1967's "007 (Shanty Town)," but once they did, there was no holding them back. The chart-topping "Israelites" was first off the mark, charting in March 1969, followed by "It Mek" in June. "Pickney Gal" opened the quintet's account in the new year, with their cover of Jimmy Cliff's "You Can Get It If You Really Want" completing their run of masterpieces. Released in 1969, This Is Desmond Dekker was obviously compiled before "Israelites" broke big, which explains its omission from a set that bundled together the group's earlier Jamaican hits. And oddly, producer Leslie Kong didn't include the number one smash on this set, either. Instead, You Can Get It If You Really Want, titled after the band's latest single, rounded up another slew of the group's recent Jamaican singles, including two other British hits. The infectious, bouncy "Perseverance," the rousing "Coomyah," the romantic "You Got Soul," the highly syncopated yet delicate "Polka Dot," and the Latin-flavored "Get Up Little Suzie" had all spun successfully on 45 back home in Jamaica. Fashions would shift dramatically in later years, with the lush orchestral string-laced arrangements of this era no longer finding favor with reggae fans, who grew to prefer the more "authentic" sounds of Jamaican music. Thus, beyond the U.K. hits, the rest of this set has been virtually ignored by the reissue labels. But back in the day, this album was adored by myriad reggae fans who appreciated Dekker's phenomenal songwriting, the numbers' lavish arrangements, the phenomenal backings, and the group's gorgeous harmonies. This was the set the cemented Dekker & the Aces' international reputation, with a brilliant mix of upbeat themes and luxurious sound. © Jo-Ann Greene /TiVo
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Reggae - Released April 15, 1968 | Trojan Records

Desmond Dekker unleashed a flood of fine singles across the '60s and early '70s, all under the aegis of producer Leslie Kong. Taking a chance on an untried youngster barely into his teens, who'd already been shown the door by Coxsone Dodd and Duke Reid, Kong nurtured Dekker to international stardom, only to die suddenly in 1971, two years after the singer's breakthrough. In those nine years, however, the singer and producer recorded a canon of music that remains untarnished by time, a vast catalog that continues to enrapture new generations of fans. Inevitably with time, lazy labels tended to pick from an ever-shrinking pot of songs, making for a growing pile of bewildering compilations that all seemed to feature many of the same numbers -- which is what made Intensified such a treat. Light on the hits, lighter still on the heavily represented songs, this compilation hones in chiefly on the rocksteady and early reggae age, making it a must for all Dekker fans. Along the way, your "Problems" will melt away, bouncing off the irrepressible reggae rhythms and the Aces' bounding harmonies. It may be "Too Much Too Soon" for those looking for yet another hits comp, but with bubbly numbers like this, reggae aficionados will be in heaven. Rocksteady fans, meanwhile, will be boarding the "Rude Boy Train," while those looking for the path to salvation can read the "Writing on the Wall." The emotive "My Lonely World," the lovely, lilting repatriation number "Pretty Africa," and the jubilant title track are all classics, amidst an entire album of less familiar numbers that are all their equals. A wonderful set. . © Jo-Ann Greene /TiVo
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Reggae - Released July 28, 2000 | Trojan Records

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Reggae - Released July 13, 2010 | Blaricum CD Company (B.C.D.) B.V.

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Reggae - Released June 1, 1980 | Stiff Records

In 1967, Desmond Dekker broke into the British market with his Top 20 rocksteady smash "007 (Shanty Town)"; two years later "The Israelites" made him an international star, as the single stormed to number one in the U.K. and became the first pure Jamaican song to set foot in the American Top Ten. But in 1971 tragedy struck with the death of Dekker's longtime producer, Leslie Kong. Like Jimmy Cliff, another Kong protégé, it would take a few years before Dekker managed to regain his footing, eventually returning to the U.K. chart in 1975 with the Top 20 hit "Sing a Little Song." After that, the singer began slipping off the radar, until 2 Tone swept in a new wave of fans in the late '70s. Quick off the mark was Stiff Records, who signed Dekker before the decade was out and recorded him with help from Graham Parker's backing band, the Rumour, as well as the Akrylykz (featuring a young Roland Gift) and the Equators. Unfortunately, with Dekker, the bands fizzled, and across a dozen tracks (including all of Dekker's biggest hits), even the singer can't salvage anything from this disaster, no matter how hard he tries. That was the view at the time, but hindsight softens the blows somewhat. The musicians are incredibly tight here, with the sizzling sax solos giving the proceedings a blast of Stax that shakes up the pubby flavor of the arrangements. Compared to Dekker's sugary 1975 set, The Israelites, and the nadir of new releases still to come, Black and Dekker stands tall. Nowhere near as bad as memories suggest, but one expected better nevertheless. © Jo-Ann Greene /TiVo
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Reggae - Released July 5, 2019 | Trojan Records