Desmond Dekker – You Can Get It If You Really Want: The Definitive Collection

by Sep 2, 2018Artist, Reviews

Desmond Dekker - You Can Get It If You Really Want: The Definitive Collection
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Release Info

Desmond Dekker – You Can Get It If You Really Want: The Definitive Collection

Label:  Trojan Records | Format: DBL CD | Street date: April 10, 2005 | Website label


Disc 1

  1. Honour Your Mother And Father
  2. Parents
  3. Labour For Learning
  4. Jeserine – Desmond Dekker & The Cherry Pies
  5. King Of Ska – Desmond Dekker & The Cherry Pies
  6. Get Up Edina – Desmond Dekker & The Four Aces
  7. This Woman – Desmond Dekker & The Four Aces
  8. Mount Zion – Desmond Dekker & The Four Aces
  9. Soldering – Desmond Dekker & The Four Aces
  10. It’s A Shame – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  11. Wise Man – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  12. 0.0.7 (Shanty Town) – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  13. Rudy Got Soul – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  14. Rude Boy Train – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  15. Mother’s Young Gal – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  16. Young Generation – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  17. Unity – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  18. Keep A Cool Head – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  19. Mother Long Tongue – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  20. Sabotage – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  21. Pretty Africa – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  22. It Pays – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  23. Beautiful And Dangerous – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  24. Mother Pepper – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  25. Don’t Blame Me – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  26. Intensified ’68 (Music Like Dirt) – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  27. Fu Manchu – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  28. (Poor Mi) Israelites – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  29. It Mek (UK mix) – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  30. Problems – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  31. Generosity – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  32. Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da / Wise Man (Medley)

Disc 2

  1. Pickney Gal – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  2. Perseverance
  3. You Can Get It If You Really Want
  4. Coomyah
  5. You Got Soul
  6. Polka Dot
  7. (Where Did It Go) The Song We Used To Sing
  8. Get Up Little Suzie
  9. My Reward
  10. Archie Wah Wah – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  11. Hippopotomus – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  12. Licking Stick – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  13. Live And Learn (The More You Live) – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  14. Warlock
  15. Life Of Opportunity – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
  16. It Gotta Be So
  17. First Time For A Long Time
  18. Mother Nature
  19. Beware
  20. Sing A Little Song
  21. Everybody Join Hands
  22. (I’m A) Busted Lad
  23. Money And Friends
  24. Moving On
  25. Book Of Rules
  26. Hot City
  27. Jamaica Ska – Desmond Dekker & The Specials
Trojan Records was originally set up by Island Records to handle their reggae catalogue, distinct from the main Island label. Celebrating 50 years of the London based reggae specialist label, we are going to bring to mind some of their releases.

It can be tempting for the more serious, long term reggae listener to pigeonhole Dekker as solely representing ‘popular’ or chart reggae — but that would be a serious error, as the best tracks on this compilation show.

“Wise Man” has a Gladiators at Studio One sound to it, with its lyric concerning encouragement of wisdom as opposed to following a rude boy lifestyle. “Sabotage” and “Pretty Africa” are also slightly reminiscent of the very early Gladiators style.

“Honour Your Father” teaches filial respect over a booming ska rhythm, whilst “Parents” conversely, with its beautiful doo wop harmonies and Cajun like shuffle, encourages parents to return that respect to their offspring.

“Labour for Learning” has a spiritual aspect — “Labour for learning before you grow old, for that is better than silver and gold” Dekker chants, then, echoing Psalms, Proverbs and Solomonic sentiment, “silver and gold will vanish away, but education shall never decay.” A beautiful jazz horns refrain (Cedric ‘Im Brooks? Roland Alphonso?) follows.

“Jeserine” and “King of Ska” are amphetamine speed rudeboy rock, with an almost ’60s garage feel.

“This Woman” has a deeply hypnotic groove and an offbeat bass boom which could compete with contemporary steppers tunes or JB’s style funk workouts. A Don Drummond/Skatalites style horns leads the piece.

“Mount Zion” sounds like South Africa township jazz circa 1965, whilst the rude “Soldering” is a tune versioned later on Big Youth’s “Dreadlocks Dread”. “It’s A Shame” has a loping b line reminiscent of Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker tunes.

The second CD is not as consistent as the first since some tracks have a schmaltzy string section sounding like Lou Rawls or the softer side of John Holt. Still, there are some unmissable tracks such as the spiritual, driven force of “Warlock/Freedom Train”, sounding like a precursor to Dennis Brown’s “Emmanuel” and The Ethiopians/Coxsone’s “Slave in a Babylon”. Rough reality music, with a vocal from the heart.

Also, check out the aggressively claustrophobic nihilism of “First Time” with its sullen resentful lyric : “I work so hard but what do I get, the little that I do get makes me fret. For the first time in a long time, I feel miserable all over.” Anachronistically, the dark pessimism of the nervous narrative is contrasted with an uplifting ska beat.

This double CD is certainly patchy in places and does contain some filler, as well as tracks so familiar as to render their inclusion inevitable, yet pointless — but that is hardly surprising since it covers a period spanning some 35 years, and collects nearly 60 tracks. Also, arguably, the ‘populist’ cover versions and ’90s tracks don’t really work.

The best tracks however, are a continuing example of how Sanctuary has revitalised the flagging fortunes of Trojan over the past two years, compiling some of the most exciting music available by digging through Trojan’s dusty vaults as well as buying up the rights to more obscure labels — as represented by the unrivaled “Haul and Pull Up” and Tappa Zukie “Stars” releases.