Various ‘The Magnificent Seven’ / ‘Rough Road’ (Burning Sounds) 4/5

Trawling the reggae archives for quality compilations is what the Burning Sounds reissues series is also about and in this case two Phil Pratt produced various artist sets that both date from 1978. The stronger of the two is the former and is devoted to some of the best and lesser known DJs of the roots reggae era. A real discovery and gem of a tune is ‘Master of All’ by King Sighta, that features a classic riddim. Only marginally less enticing is ‘Jah Jah Children’ by Big Youth. Phil Pratt certainly had some impressive networking skills and managed to secure the great I-Roy for the smoothest of deliveries allied to some stabbing horns on ‘Musical Air Raid’. Pratt is in fact a gifted musician and the eldest of seventeen children, one of whom made it as a musical teacher at St. Alpha’s school for boys, an institution that nurtured some of the finest of all Jamaican instrumentalists.

The second compilation draws attention to the singers and of these Al Campbell was a particular favourite of Pratt and here is heard on three separate numbers, of which the minor horns of ‘Version of Love’ is the pick of the bunch. Veteran Lord Creator was around during the ska craze, but was still producing quality music in the late 1970s, as with ‘Precious Time’. The only pity is that some of Phil Pratt’s finest vocal productions such as Dennis Brown’s ‘Black Magic Woman’, and Pat Kelly’s ‘Soulful Love’, are not included. However, these are easily available elsewhere and regularly find their way onto 45 reissue.

Finally, full marks for the quality of the printing in the inner sleeve notes that puts some re-issues companies to shame. Terrific facsimile album covers and labels adds just the right touch of authenticity and excellent references provide further reading tips as well.

Tim Stenhouse