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Album Review

King Kong Compilation, The [coll] – [Mango / Island Records]

ArtCrimes   4/29/2008   12-inch, Reggae

A 1981 Mango LP with selections from Leslie Kong’s Beverly’s label, produced in Jamaica from the late 60s up until 1971, when Kong died of heart failure (some say due to a curse placed by Peter Tosh over some bad business with Kong early in the Wailer’s career). These are tracks from the dawn of reggae (“Israelites” being among the first US/UK reggae hits), with little of the Rasta ethics that we would be hearing later, although there’s some talk of social movements. Mostly, driving beats are the business of the day here, with less of the overt American R&B influence heard in the earlier Rock Steady style. Some of these tracks have been over-anthologized (the 2 Desmond Decker tracks, The Melodians’ “Rivers of Babylon”) but there are enough less-heard hits here like The Maytals’ “Peeping Tom” and Ken Boothe’s “Freedom Street” to justify this addition to KFJC’s bulging reggae stacks. And a couple of tracks were issued for the first time on this collection, including an instrumental from session pianist Ansell Collins, best known in the US for his 1971 hit “Double Barrel” when he was part of the duo, Dave & Ansell Collins.

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