Sugar Minott – The Roots Lover 1978-1983 (Moll-Selekta Records)

Reggae music began to decline in tail-end of the 1970s, and continued into the 1980s as dance-hall styles and synthesized beats replaced the timeless rootsy sounds of the past decade. One of the few artists who flourished during this time was Sugar Minott, whose 1976 album Live Loving is credited as the first dance-hall album ever. This 2-CD collection showcases his work from 1978-1983 when he helped popularize dance-hall in Jamaica. Unlike most of his peers, Sugar’s songs actually improved as the backing tracks (provided by either the Roots Radics Band or The Black Roots Player) became more heavily synthesized. Regardless of the backing band, the one constant throughout these seventeen tracks is Sugar’s voice, which compares with contemporaries John Holt and Horace Andy. The songs cover the usual reggae topics of Rastafarianism, marijuana, girls, and black equality with charisma and conviction. My only complaint is that each song is followed by a dub version….within the same track, forcing you to listen to every song twice in a row!!! Why Moll-Selekta did this, instead of putting the originals on one disc and the dubs on another, is anyone’s guess. Still, this handsome package is a worthwhile addition to any serious reggae fan’s collection