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Love Is Overdue by Gregory Isaacs

Love Is Overdue by Gregory Isaacs

Love Is Overdue by Gregory Isaacs

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The very essence of reggae.

Sampler

The loss of Gregory Isaacs to lung cancer on 25th October last year at the age of 59 was both a heavy blow and the close of an era for music. Right up to his final live performance at the Big Chill Festival near Malvern, England, thousands flocked to experience his legendary charisma and stage presence - which remained undiminished 'til the end.

Gregory Isaacs - Love Is OverdueIsaacs was hugely prolific for his own African Museum label, started at the turn of the 70s with Errol Dunkley, as well as for a roll call of top producers through the years. In the aftermath of his departure it is then unsurprising that his early catalogue should be reissued for posterity. And this double CD collection of his album and single sessions for Alvin "GG" Ranglin - that yielded wedding and christening staple Love Is Overdue in 1974 - is a nicely packaged indication of what made Gregory great..

A gifted, deceptively simple, songwriter, the Cool Ruler, like a painter, dabs and strokes his wonderful voice over the stripped down brittle yet supple rhythms of Soul Syndicate and then the more militant work of the Revolutionaries. And whilst his image as a crooner for the ladies is well represented on the aforementioned title piece, there is some gentle but compelling religious and cultural material here too. A perfect example is the soaring prayer Happiness Come, where Gregory promises to sing for the Lord and you believe him 100%.

Where disc one is all Gregory's writing, the heavier late 70s sounds of disc two showcase his ability with cover versions such as Alton Ellis' Breaking Up and Tyrone Davis' Can I Change My Mind. There's also one of few minor key offerings, The Border, recently given an essential cover treatment itself by the Birmingham singer Peter Spence.

In his excellent sleevenotes John Masouri likens Isaacs to Sam Cooke in his style and his control of his music. Vocally, however - though he  spawned a couple of knowing imitators - there was  nobody quite like him. The closest comparison from the world of soul is perhaps his Mississippi contemporary Syl Johnson who, while distinct, possessed the same plaintive pleading tone to his voice.

If you haven't grown up with Gregory it may take a listen or two to tap in to the full brilliance of what he's doing - but tap in you must. For if someone asked to be played the very essence of reggae music - without frills or affectations - this would be it.

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Read comments (1)


Posted by godwin on 12.25.2012
Reggae rule the world.

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