Oct 26, 2010

Around The World, Gregory

Hello, an unplanned post coming up. This morning fans mourn the passing of Gregory Isaacs, the singer whose smooth style earned him the nickname "Cool Ruler"and "Lonely Lover'. has died at the age of 59.. The entertainer had 40 years as a recording artist, he has made over 500 albums, and definitely left an impression on reggae music, all while having a turbulent life. Isaacs had been diagnosed with lung cancer a year ago, but continued performing until weeks before his death.

One of Jamaica's most beloved vocalists who is as pertinent in dancehalls as he is in bedrooms, Gregory Isaacs' career has stretched over 30 years. From the heady days of reggae through lovers rock, a genre he virtually invented, his talent reached into the modern age. Born in the Fletcher's Land area of Kingston, Jamaica, on July 15, 1951, Isaacs arrived in the music business via the talent show circuit. After 5 years of failing to make an impact and regardless of this poor track record, in 1973 Isaacs set up his own record store and label, African Museum, in partnership with Errol Dunkley, a young singer with a string of hits to his own name. Apparently some of Dunkley's own magic wore off and one of the label's first releases, Isaacs' own self-produced "My Only Lover," was an immediate hit and the floodgates opened wide. Besides African Museums' offerings, Isaacs helped keep the label solvent by recording with virtually every producer on the island for a stream of hits that showed no sign of abating.

By the late seventies, the two polar sides of Isaacs were apparent: the roots singer, whose emotive sufferer's songs and cultural numbers were filled with fire, and the crooning lover, whose passionate declarations of devotion quivered with emotion. Eventually, the latter "Cool Ruler" would come to dominate his image. In 78 Virgins Frontline label signed him and he produced two great albums for the UK market that didnt make a dent and so his first voyage across the pond wasnt succesful. a few years later Isaacs was picked up by Island's Mango and released Night Nurse which became a big hit and launched his international career. Ironically at the time he was serving a six months jail sentence for a drug related crime. Drugs and mainly crack cocaine had become part of his life by that time a decede later his voice and teeth had givin way. This didnt stop him creating many more dancehall classics with many diferent producers and deejees.

The singer showed in the new millennium with aplomb on Father and Son, which true to the title features Isaacs and his son Kevin. The duets are gorgeous, while the younger Isaacs is given plenty of room to prove that his talent is equal to his dad's. The next year, I Found Love marked the second time the two worked together. In between times, the singer continues to impress audiences live.

In 2008, after some 40 years as a recording artist, Isaacs released a new studio album Brand New Me. The album received positive reviews from critics, it was to be his last, the brand new me is singing at the other side now.

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Night Nurse is reggae artist Gregory Isaacs' most well-known album, backing came from the Roots Radics, with additional synthesizer added by Wally Badarou. The prison sentence probably stopped Gregory from fully benefiting from the commercial success of this effort (no radio/tv promotions). "Night Nurse" is the best known song and the album from which it came found its way into a lot of homes. It is efficient, concise, and will bring back a lot of happy memories to those that heard it first twenty years ago. The songs have a confidence and assuredness that testify to Isaacs' commercial and critical high standing at the time.

The metaphor of the "Stranger" and the constant references to "Loneliness" always feature highly in Isaacs' work. A sense of apartness and alienation give all of his love songs a seldom-matched depth and emotional intensity. Even at his most seductive, there is a pleading and a quiet desperation that speaks of a pain and an absolute lack that is unlikely ever to be adequately satisfied. When the singer begs forgiveness for his failings , the hurt is almost overwhelming.

Gregory Isaacs - Night Nurse ('82 83mb)

A1 - Night Nurse (4;06)
A2 - Stranger in Town (3;47)
A3 - Objection Overruled (3;53)
A4 - Hot Stepper (4;12)
B1 - Cool Down the Pace (5;13)
B2 - Material Man (3;32)
B3 - Not the Way (3;49)
B4 - Sad to Know (You're Leaving) (4;08)

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1 comment:

Ed said...

Eyes that could pierce to the center of your soul...