This album is exactly why Don Drummond and his fellow Skatalites are regarded as the greatest ska band of all time. This presents rocker after rocker for each track, of solid ska. And not just their output for Coxsone's Studio One, but also some of their best from Treasure Isle and Top Deck. Actually, only six of the 16 tracks here are from Studio One.
The record starts with "Ringo" which starts with a lead guitar intro that kind of reminds me of a 60's spy movie. The horns begin soon enough with a solo by Johnny Moore and then by Roland Alphonso. The song is very good and is a great opener to this disc. Since this opening song was for Top Deck, we'll work from there. The next Top Deck recording is "Confucious" which is a well known ska track, and for good reason as it is a great song with a really good piano intro and excellent soloing by Drummond, Moore and Alphonso. "The Reburial" is next with some signature jazz trombone stylings by Don Drummond. Again Johnny Moore is featured again here though its obvious Drummond owns this song.
The Treasure Isle set is next, beginning with "Eastern Standard Time" which is, again, a ska classic. "Occupation" is next with a tight rhythm held by the two Lloyds (Brevett on bass and Knibb on drums). The horns on this are classic as usual. Other Treasure Isle classics on this record are "Don D Lion", "Corner Stone" and "Garden of Love", all of which up to amazing standards.
The bulk of this record though is songs released by Clement Dodd on the Studio One label and thats where you'll find the real gems of this album in my opinion. Hits like "Silver Dollar" featuring solos by Drummond and Roland Alphonso. "Roll On Sweet Don" is a real nice jazz-ska number again with Drummond and Alphonso on the solos but this time added with a nice flute by Lloyd Mason. Some of the other hits are "African Beat" with a stomping drum and piano intro before exploding in a a brilliant hornline. "Schooling the Duke" is another classic, as are the songs "Elevator Rock" and "Heavenless"
This album is definitely recommended to any and all ska fans. A perfect beginners guide to both Don Drummond and ska music as a whole.
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