Gregory Isaacs

Gregory Isaacs

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Gregory Isaacs possessed one of the world’s most beautiful voices, but until 1981, he wasn’t well-known outside his native Jamaica except by reggae nerds. Then he issued this album, which finally broke him through to an international audience, and it’s easy to hear why. More Gregory shows all the skill and smoothness of the man they called “The Cool Ruler,” and he’s backed by the amazing Roots Radics band on most cuts and by Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare on the rest, which makes great-tasting stuff go down even easier.

The first song, “Confirm Reservation,” is not just great music about leaving some place that doesn’t appreciate you (Jamaica, or wherever you are) but could also be a strong statement about the Rastafarian beliefs that Isaacs held so dear — his planned trip might be to somewhere in the sky. He does that slick loverman thing better than… gee… anyone else in the world, on tracks like “Permanent Lover” and “If I Don’t Have You.” And on “The Fugitive,” he’s a sexy outlaw on the run: “My feet are my only wings / Still I’ve got to live / Although I’m the fugitive.” Oh, you’d help him in a heartbeat the way he sings this stuff.

This reissue features three Sly & Robbie-helmed bonus tracks that might be better even the songs on the original record, especially the slow tough “Wailing Rudie.” Gregory Isaacs was completely the man, and this is one of his best albums ever.

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