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World Music CD Reviews South Asia

SAFE TRAVEL: THE RARE SIDE OF ROCKSTEADY: 1966-1968

By Tom Pryor
Published September 22, 2005

Pressure Sounds

The British reissue label Pressure Sounds, like their compatriots Blood and Fire, is seemingly incapable of doing wrong. Seriously. These guys just have a knack for digging up and reissuing some of the best reggae music around, and this latest release is no exception. Drawing mainly on the catalogs of the Caltone and JohnTom labels, Safe Travel explores the sonic legacy of producer Phil Pratt. A Kingston native and former singer (he got his start in a vocal trio that included Ken Boothe and Heardly Foulding), Pratt had a natural ear for vocal talent, and was responsible for the discovery of Horace Andy, among others. This collection focuses on Pratt’s rocksteady output in the mid- and late ’60s, and includes vocal performances from Boothe, Andy, the Clarendonians and Pratt himself. Also included are a few instrumentals from the likes of Tommy McCook and Vincent Gordon. While some of these old mono tracks suffer a bit on modern sound systems, overall this compilation is an invaluable asset for serious collectors and casual early reggae fans alike.