One of a new series of "O" recordings inspired by the popular soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou?, this reggae compilation packages 20 of the most interesting roots sounds from what many consider the classic age of Jamaican reggae music, the early '70s. Many of these are considered perennial classics, such as Prince Jazzbo's playful "School," which begins with the sound of a motorcycle and then informs listeners, somewhat humorously, about the value of education. Distinguishing between the colorful one-hit wonders and the legends is best left to an expert like Roger Steffens, founding editor of Reggae and African Beat magazine, who writes sparse but quirky liner notes. Pluto is the most represented artist, with three songs: the pointed "I Man Bitter," the romantic, longing gem "Boogie Bump," and the very playful "Ram Goat Liver," about a minibus that hits a goat and its passengers, who roast it on the road. The production has an expected, dated '70s sheen to it, but it adds to the vintage flavor that this compilation is going for. Non-reggae fans will no doubt complain that every song has the same groove, but genre fans will consider this a treasure trove and an integral slice of history.
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