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Various Artists: Jamaica Funk: Original Jamaican Funk and Soul 45's

Various Artists: Jamaica Funk: Original Jamaican Funk and Soul 45's

Label:Soul Jazz
Release Date:2008

By Michael Byrne | Posted 1/2/2008

Reggae getting yanked across the ocean in the 1960s for Brit and American dance music pilgrims isn't exactly news. (Nor is its getting yanked and trapped in U.S. college campuses.) Jamaica Funk gives us a series of some of the finest examples that mainlanders gave something in return. R&B, soul, and funk were all flowing back to the island in relative trickles, flavoring 1970s reggae and combusting into a one-of-a-kind brand of funk--devastating sexy and as politically charged as its reggae cousin--that nonetheless didn't make it back around into the export river. And it may have well perished in molten clumps of vinyl--weathered vinyl whose mortality is brought to life in the disc's liner-note photography--if it hadn't been for this loving, infectious digitization of rare 45s.

Funk and reggae are a grand jive to begin with, just on paper; the even swing of reggae and the complicated, thick bass grooves and expressive vocals of funk and R&B are a rhythm all-star team. Really, there's nothing like a dud here. Lee Perry gets his moment with a Jah Lloyd megafunk--yet with dubby, almost rapped staccato vocals--cover of "Lama." Other joys include the instrumental (sub organ for vocals) kick-drum bump "Jam #1" from Winston Wright and the Upsetters. Sidney, George, and Jackie's wah-ed to heck, clarinet-lit version of "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" is a tiny revelation, and the Now Generation's gentle take on "People Make the World Go Round" is arguably better than the original. Herman and the Aquarians' goofy bounce, "Dunce Cap" (starting "when boy and girl gets together lot of things can happen"), could melt the snow off the poles.

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