You Can Get It If You Really Want: The Definitive Collection

by: Desmond Dekker

What Desmond Dekker fans really want is a comprehensive compilation of the legend's back catalog, but they've been disappointed time and time again. However, You Can Get It If You Really Want: The Definitive Collection finally delivers the goods with a two-CD, career-spanning overview. The set begins at the beginning, with Dekker's 1963 debut single, "Honour Your Mother and Father," then charts his progress across the ska years and into rocksteady. As usual, there's a bit of scrimping on the former era to make room for the rude boy icon who emerged in the latter. Reggae's arrival created a rough break with the past for many producers, but not Dekker's mentor, Leslie Kong, and the set flows seamlessly from rocksteady into reggae. By now Dekker had begun his climb to international stardom, with disc two opening with his 1970 hit "Pickney Gal." The singles just kept coming, with the title track another international smash. In 1971, Kong died of a heart attack; the second half of disc two is given over to the aftermath, as Dekker tried to regain his footing and his international standing. He never really did, but never faded away entirely either, with occasional new albums, a stream of compilations, and exultant live performances helping to maintain his reputation. While this is a definitive overview, it's not a complete collection of Dekker's work, not even of the Kong years. The omission of "Bongo Gal" is surprising, the lack of "Writing on the Wall" perhaps a matter of taste, but inevitably a few of your faves will be missing as well. So, not the perfect collection, but pretty close. ~ Jo-Ann Greene

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