Gregory Isaacs – Rebirth Of The Cool Ruler

by Feb 22, 2024Artist, Reviews

Gregory Isacs - Rebirth Of The Cool Ruler

Release Info

Label
Greensleeves Records
Format
CD / LP / DR
Street date
October 6, 2023
Contact
Website Record Label

Tracklist

01. It Go So feat. Shaggy
02. Another Try feat. Sean Paul
03. Don’t Take Your Love From Me feat. Jesse Royal
04. First Class Lover feat. Aza Lineage
05. Dance With Me feat. Ras Demo
06. You’re Like An Angel feat. Brandon The Messenjah
07. Dreadlocks Bridge feat. Alborosie
08. Another Warning feat. Bounty Killer
09. Never Give Your Love feat. Junior Reid
10. Counterfeit Lover feat. Ras Shiloh
11. You Can Have The Bits feat. Projexx
12. Flirting Around feat. Claire Angel
13. Lost My Happiness feat. Chaka Demus
14. Don’t Go feat. Flinix
15. My Pride Won’t Let Me feat. Bunny General

Return

The “ruler” is back! Well sort of, if you consider the latest release from the legend himself, Gregory Isaacs an actual return of sorts. Not so much as a rebirth but a reintroduction to reggae fans who may have needed a refresher course on the supreme talent the “Lonely Lover” possessed, this collection of hits features him alongside a plethora of talent, either considered stars in their own right, or leaders of the new school, spearheading the future of the genre. A quick glance at the enlisted talent and it’s easy to get excited at the heat this album is sure to offer. Sean Paul, Shaka Demus, and Alborosie are just a few of the artists lending their considerable ability to this effort.

Collaborations

As far as actually critiquing a Gregory Isaacs album? There may be no easier job in the world. Sure some of his 70-plus original albums may have more of your favorites than others, or you might prefer him over a more rudimentary, roots-based sound, rather than the slickly crafted electronic era chunes, both of which he was adept at voicing. But no reviewer in their right mind would critically pan one of the absolute greatest reggae artists to ever pick up a microphone without a damn good reason. As it pertains to “duet” albums whether organically or done via studio wizardry, feelings are sometimes mixed. Collaborations can either add merit to an album, or bog it down. Especially if there are too many of them, or the featured artist’s talent isn’t worthy of sharing the spotlight with the central figure. Rebirth of the Cool Ruler features 15 King Jammy-produced treasures from the resume of Gregory Isaacs, all of which are instantly recognizable to his legions of fans. Knowing these cuts personally, I was curious as to how it would come across.

Complementing

The opener, It Go So, pairs the Ruler with Mr. Boombastic himself and gets things popping right away. Although not the most ardent fan of Shaggy, he settles in nicely along G.I., complementing him rather than making it all about him. Thankfully, this is a recurring theme throughout this album, as each collaborator is careful not to do to much in the name of artistic integrity. Classic cuts like, You Can Have The Bills featuring Projexx, My Pride Won’t Let Me, with an assist from Bunny General, and Counterfeit Lover, in conjunction with Ras Shiloh spark nostalgia while at the same time adding a fresh twist to this assemblage of classics. With so many certified hits on this release, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but if I had to tap one (okay two) as the crème de la creme for me, It would be Flirting Around featuring Claire Angel, who happens to be one of my absolute favorite “under the radar” female vocalists and Dance With Me, alongside Ras Demo on the timeless Fi Wi Rock riddim. With so much incendiary material, just where is one to register a complaint on this album? I guess if you wanted to be a Debbie Downer, you could whine that Bounty Killer is a little heavy handed on his featured cut, Another Warning but then again, when is BK, ever NOT heavy-handed?

A must-grab

Despite that, it STILL blazes in line with the rest of the album, so no points subtracted from this critic. Ultimately, one’s enjoyment from this album hinges on just how much you enjoy duets to begin with. Reggae has been built on them, and nary an artist has navigated any sort of extended career without jumping on a track with a perfectly paired partner to deliver the heat the fans crave. I’m good with it personally. This isn’t one of those efforts that sound slapped together or appear as nothing more than a disingenuous money grab. (Bad Boy’s Notorious B.I.G album, Duets: The Final Chapter, case in point) Rebirth is expertly engineered and curated with the tracks essentially rejuvenating Gregory Isaac’s vocals, and in addition, one can tell that the lineup was assembled with a great deal of care. Hearing the greatest “Ruler” in music (sorry Slick Rick) deliver the goods with a little something extra, only broadens the enjoyment factor, and makes this album a must-grab for both fringe and ardent fans. Ah, and in case you were wondering, no NIGHT NURSE! I think the producers made the right call with that one!

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