Desmond Dekker ‘Double Dekker’ CD (Doctor Bird) 4/5

As the year rapidly draws to a close, this 1973 Trojan offering from singer Desmond Dekker confirms what a popular singer he was at the time, capable of regularly entering into the pop charts. That is illustrated by the hit single, ‘It Meik’, which still packs a punch with a slow vocal intro that morphs into a groove-laden song. However, there is much more besides on what was originally a collection of unissued recordings from 1970, supplemented here by a further six songs. Recorded at Beverley’s studio in Kingston, the premier league musicians make this an enjoyable journey into early reggae, and that is exemplified by the lovely vocal harmonies and drum work on the uptempo ‘Warlock’ as well as on tight rhythm section evident on ‘Archie Wah-Wah’, complete with strong male harmonies. Dekker made his name with simple, yet highly infectious melodies, co-written by Beverley’s label owner and producer Leslie Kong, over which he laid down glorious harmony vocals. That formula certainly works on, ‘The more you live’ (aka ‘live and learn’). Pop-reggae is in evidence on, ‘Look What They’re Doing To Me’ and especially on ‘Licking Stick’, where one hears Dekker dabbling in onomatopoeia with his verbal juggling of words, particularly on his amusing parallel of early skinheads to ‘Hippopotamus’ over a relaxed reggae groove.
As with other reggae retrospectives in this series, exemplary graphics include original 45 colour sleeves and labels and press reviews of the time couple with fine historical inner sleeve notes by Tony Rounce whom we are more accustomed to reading his authoritative notes on blues, gospel and soul for ACE records re-issues.

Tim Stenhouse