Music » Music Stories & Interviews

Wishbone, Deliver Me From My Enemies

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Jackie Mittoo
Wishbone
(Light in the Attic)
Yabby You
Deliver Me From My Enemies (Blood & Fire)

Contrary to the natterings of rock-centric audiophiles and wax-loving jazzbos, the CD era has been a godsend for some discerning music lovers. While all genres benefit sonically from playback on wax, the underlying rule is that said wax should be of reasonable quality. Reggae records from Jamaica — pressed quick and dirty, under quality-control standards that border on nonexistent — almost never meet that criterion. Off-center spindle holes, debris in the vinyl, inconsistent thicknesses and various other abominations in these small-press runs have made Jamaican records as disappointing to listen to as they are rare to find. Nothing is worse than finding that one-off Tommy McCook album you've been dying to hear for years — in a record store, still sealed and with a hefty price tag on it — only to open it up when you get home and see dirt spill out of the sleeve. Thus, the work of reissue labels like Blood & Fire and, recently, Light in the Attic (which also deals in odd psychedelic fare) has made some of reggae's best recordings not only available, but

listenable. In the case of these two records, the joy in their CD reissues isn't so much the avoidance of piss-poor original pressings (Wishbone was originally released in Canada, while Deliver Me came out in England), but simply the ability to purchase these fine albums without breaking the bank, as the original pressings often fetch upward of $100 on eBay. The dozen tracks on Wishbone showcase Mittoo's post-Skatalites keyboard prowess, showing that while Toronto may be thousands of miles from Kingston, the rocksteady lessons Mittoo learned at Studio One had definitely not been forgotten. The effortless funk of cuts like "Groovy Spirit" and "Right Track" is still rewarding some 35 years later. Deliver Me From My Enemies is another fine, B&F-rescued example of Yabby You's rootsy soulfulness. The version he does here of John Holt's "Stranger in Love" is as tear-jerkingly honest as the title track is spiritually uplifting, while the 12-inch and dubplate mixes that have been appended to the set are positively hypnotic. And, for the record, both of these reissues are available on vinyl.

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