Dusted Reviews

Sugar Minott - The Roots Lover (1978-1983)

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Sugar Minott

Album: The Roots Lover (1978-1983)

Label: Moll-Selekta

Review date: Feb. 9, 2006

As one of the prime movers across the reggae landscape, finding performers as versatile and soulful as Sugar Minott is a tall order. His career longevity is perhaps even more impressive, having risen up from strictly roots performances from around 1969 to the invention of dancehall – using roots riddims as the background to toast new lyrics on top of – in the mid ’70s, and taking it to the streets of Jamaica with his Youth Promotion sound system, two labels of his own (Black Roots and Youth Promotion), his own studio, and his pick of collaborators, to international success from the 1980s onward. Perhaps it’s because he has the common touches: a gorgeous singing voice capable of wicked toasting as well as serenades as sweet as his name, the knack for picking the right tunes, a strong sense for the business of music that left many of his compatriots wanting. In any event, the man has done so much right throughout his career that it’s difficult to find any faults. Even lovers rock, combining early R&B and doo-wop sentiments to make what is largely the sappiest of reggae styles, sounds incredibly meaningful and poignant through his voice and the strength of his craft.

The Roots Lover, a double-CD collection of extended versions culled from 7” and 12” singles, presents Minott in a time period of burgeoning international fame. He was living in London by 1980, recording for RCA, and enjoying success on three continents. The music here underscores his confidence across reggae movements; his toasting style is peerless on cuts like “No Vacancy,” “Rome, Rome” and “Dance Hall Style,” and the roughness of political turmoil and calls for justice push through serious sounds on “A Slice of the Cake” and “Careless Ethiopians.” His knack for combining genres – as evidenced in the rough, speaker-popping bass on the lovers rock anthem “African Girl” – is stunning and groundbreaking, though it’s not as evident now as it was when these tunes were first released. His dubs, particularly strong on “Hold On,” “Superstar” (a collaboration with Ranking Dread) and “Dub on the Pressure” add a number of non-conventional devices, such as primitive analog electronics and tape splicing, to give the versions a balance that kept him in line with the greats of the genre.

Overall, it’s difficult to fault this music; critical faculties fail when confronted with sounds this completely uplifting. Moll-Selekta has to answer for a handful of issues, however – inconsistent (though loud) mastering directly from “cultured” JA original vinyl pressings reveal lots of surface noise, and the occasional pops and skips. Also, it seems as if 7” versions have been digitally spliced between the A-side and the version into single tracks, which will upset some purists. No discography information about the tracks present on this collection is included here, either. But these are minor concerns that do little to stop such a powerful and worthwhile collection.

By Doug Mosurock

Other Reviews of Sugar Minott

Sugar Minott at Studio One

Dance Hall Showcase, Vol. II

Read More

View all articles by Doug Mosurock

Find out more about Moll-Selekta

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.