Anthology: Israelites 1963-1999

by: Desmond Dekker

Most Americans over the age of 45 remember "Israelites," the international hit single that made Desmond Dekker a household name in the 1960s and gave the U.S. its first taste of Jamaican ska. Your average old school ska fan has worn out more than one copy of "Honour Your Mother and Your Father," "007 (Shanty Town)," and "Pickney Gal." But beyond those familiar tunes, most of Dekker's catalog is pretty obscure. This generous mid-priced two-fer won't satisfy completists (inexplicably, such gems as "Keep a Cool Head" and "Rude Boy Train" are missing), but its 50 tracks will probably be enough for most ska lovers. It includes obvious faves like "Israelites" and "007 (Shanty Town)," two versions of the chart-topping "It Mek," and, toward the end, a charming set of 1990s remakes that finds Dekker still in excellent voice -- his new renditions of "King of Ska," "This Woman," and "Young Generation" stand up remarkably well to the original versions, and there is also a very fun ska arrangement of the calypso chestnut "Jamaica Farewell." The occasional clunker notwithstanding, this set can be considered essential. ~ Rick Anderson

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