The Mighty Diamonds – Planet Earth and Planet Mars Dub (Hot Milk)

Although the Mighty Diamonds aren’t among the most highly regarded reggae groups, they did put out a slew of strong singles and albums during the genre’s golden age. Originally released back in 1978 on Virgin Records (and mysteriously credited to “The Diamonds”), Planet Earth takes full advantage of the major label recording budget with a slew of Jamaica’s finest studio musicians working together on a set of richly-layered backing tracks. As for the Diamonds themselves, they split their time between Rastafarian odes (“Where Is Garvey”), lovers rock (“Sweet Lady” and “Just Cant Figure Out”) and social commentary (“Planet Called Earth”). Some songs are marred by simple lyrics and repetition, but the trio’s harmonies are always strong enough to hold your interest.

Hot Milk’s reissue tacks on the album’s dub counterpart, Planet Mars Dub, credited to “The Icebreakers with The Diamonds”. Usually bonus material is welcome, but here it gets in the way, since the album has been re-sequenced so that each song on Planet Earth is followed by its Planet Mars Dub version. The dubs are OK, but hardly groundbreaking, and sitting through back-to-back versions of the same rhythm gets tiring. My recommendation: just play the vocal tracks.