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€12.49

Reggae - Released June 15, 2018 | Trojan Records

Distinctions Songlines Five-star review
€20.49

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
€9.99

Reggae - Released March 23, 2015 | Trojan Records

€27.99

Reggae - Released September 29, 2014 | Sanctuary Records

€41.99

Reggae - Released March 1, 2017 | Trojan Records

€12.49

Reggae - Released March 1, 2017 | Trojan Records

€9.99

Reggae - Released March 1, 2017 | Trojan Records

€9.99

Reggae - Released August 19, 2016 | Trojan Records

€20.49

Reggae - Released September 1, 2016 | Trojan Records

€13.99

Reggae - Released September 1, 2016 | Trojan Records

€9.99

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

€12.49

Reggae - Released March 15, 2010 | Trojan Records

€26.49

Reggae - Released September 1, 2016 | Trojan 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
€8.99

Alternative & Indie - Released June 26, 2018 | copper1000records

€9.99

Reggae - Released September 28, 2018 | Sanctuary Records

€11.49

Reggae - Released March 1, 2017 | Salvo

€9.99

Reggae - Released September 28, 2018 | Trojan Records

€8.99

Ska & Rocksteady - Released October 6, 2018 | Trojan

€9.99

Reggae - Released June 29, 2015 | Trojan Records

This minimal but coherent Desmond Dekker & the Aces compilation is drawn mostly from the early reggae age, and while hit-laced, it is less interested in chart position than in thematic coalescence. The quintet recorded a flood of fabulous music across the late '60s and right up to producer Leslie Kong's untimely death in 1971. Dekker was a prolific songwriter, with his compositions zinging the Zeitgeist of the day as well as tackling more personal matters. Counterintuitively, Shanty Town Original doesn't include the group's 1967 smash "007 (Shanty Town)," the song that flawless encapsulated the rude boy rule of the rocksteady age. But rallying the ranks and glorifying the bad boys would, in fact, have cut across the grain of this set, which instead takes a more serious look at life in the yards of Kingston's shanty neighborhoods. The album kicks off with the quintet's smash cover of Jimmy Cliff's "You Can Get It If You Really Want," which is bookended by Dekker's own take on conquering the world through sheer self-will, "Perseverance." But down in the ghetto there are many "Problems" to overcome, much "Trouble & Misery" (here the song is oddly retitled "Peace of Mind"), but as Jimmy Cliff notes, "That's the Way Life Goes," which the band also covered to perfection. It's always been a sufferer's world, even going back to biblical times, as the group's international chart-topper "Israelites" dramatically recalled. But even in the midst of such wretchedness, joy was to be had; love found; and children born, raised, and adored -- and few more so than Dekker's own constantly misbehaving young sister, the subject of the hits "Pickney Gal" and "It Mek." Music, too, was an integral part of shanty town life, highlighted by "Rudy Got Soul," the sole rocksteady number on this set, and the exultant "Music Like Dirt" (aka "Intensified Festival"), which won Dekker the prestigious Independence Song Festival Competition in 1968. With only 13 tracks, this is a sparse offering, but unlike most of the Dekker compilations on the market that mix and match hits and misses and present a mishmash of genres, Shanty Town offers up a short but sharp look at the artist in a cultural context, and it's all the stronger for that. ~ Jo-Ann Greene
€8.99

Ska & Rocksteady - Released June 6, 2006 | Baierle records

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