by Mitch Myers
While Island Records has been churning out popular music for four decades, there was a time when the Island imprint was synonymous with great reggae music. In no uncertain terms, this compilation displays some of the best reggae Island Records had to offer during the 70s which is the same as saying it contains some of the best reggae music, period. Consider the power and the glory of a record label that housed Bob Marley and the Wailers, Toots and the Maytals, Steel Pulse and Third World, not to mention dub producers Lee "Scratch" Perry and Augustus Pablo. While there are a few scattered cuts from subsequent decades on this disc, the slick Caribbean pop of Luciano and the dancehall rap of Buju Banton cannot come close to the classic reggae fare represented by the likes of Junior Murvins "Police & Thieves" or Max Romeos "War Ina Babylon."
While only scratching the surface of Islands spectacular catalogue, this retrospective contains timeless tracks such as Jimmy Cliffs rudeboy hit "The Harder They Come," Black Uhurus seminal herb chant "Sensemilla" and the seductive lovers rock of Gregory Issacs "Night Nurse." Interested in some early dub prototypes? Check out Lee Perrys "Roast Fish & Cornbread." Primal Rastafarian philosophy disguised as roots-rock-reggae? Try "Marcus Garvey" by the immortal Burning Spear. With crucial versions of Marleys "Exodus," Steel Pulses "Ku Klux Klan" and Third Worlds "Now That We Found Love," Volume 5 should have you scurrying back to the Island in no time.