Bunny Lee and Friends: Tape Rolling!

1233This excellent twenty-track compilation from Pressure Sounds features extended mixes and previously unreleased versions from reggae’s finest, complete with informative if idiosyncratic sleevenotes. All tracks are produced by Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee and are reproduced here from the original vinyl records, featuring musicians including Carlton Barrett, Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett, Augustus Pablo, Tommy McCook and Vin Gordon. The album opens with Slim Smith’s ‘The Time Has Come’ in an unreleased version complete with false starts and an unadorned basic reggae rhythm. This is followed by an outstanding ‘Devil’s Brother in Law’ from I Roy and Augustus Pablo  where I Roy declaims  over the top of the source track, the Paragons ‘Left With a Broken Heart’. I Roy also brings us the fascinating unreleased ‘Noisy Place’ where he deejays his studio comments to King Tubby (‘Doctor Satan’) over a run-through of ‘Man Next Door’ (aka ‘Got to Get Away’), a track well-known from versions by Horace Andy (included here) and also by the Paragons, Dennis Brown or indeed Massive Attack.

Big Joe’s ‘Rasta Train’ is great deejaying with King Tubby at the mixing desk; Cornell Campbell contributes his sweet vocal sound to three unreleased tracks; King Tubby adds a quirky and infectious ‘Straight to the Copycat Head’ with basic fading in and out of instruments; and there’s a fine unsophisticated rhythm track behind Eric Donaldson’s ‘Cherry Oh Baby’ (followed here by I Roy’s ‘Festival Mash Up’ of the same track). ‘Riding for a Fall’ (familiar to many perhaps from John Holt’s vocal version) is featured here dominated by Vin Gordon’s instrumentation, leaving just traces of the vocal track. But it’s very difficult to pick out standout tracks given the consistent overall quality of the music here. It’s all good. An excellent album.

Bunny Lee and Friends: Tape Rolling! single CD/double vinyl, Pressure Sounds/Attack

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