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Long Live the Cool Ruler

October 26, 2010

It seems this site is becoming more or less one big obituary with all the recent deaths of music legends recently (see Sugar Minott last month), but i can’t help but share another one of my favorite Jamaican singer’s passing “pass” me by without a proper mention.

Gregory Isaacs died from lung cancer at his London home at the young age of 59.

Isaacs was different than most other reggae artists in that:

1. Although he was a Rasafarian he sang less “conscious” or political lyrics than his contemporaries. He basically invented the “lovers rock” sub-genre of reggae. Even though he followed the styles of reggae as they changed throughout the decades, he never moved very far from the crooning lover’s style.

2. Most of his releases were in album form as opposed to the rest of the island which released mainly singles, and boy did he release a lot: Some estimates say he put out more than 500 albums! The most popular was 1982’s Night Nurse, which is arguably one of THE most classic reggae albums of the 80s.

He had a long police record and struggled with drugs all his life. He even lost his teeth in his later years but continued to tour. I saw him 7 years ago at the TLA and his once smooth voice was quite impaired but he still put on quite a show.

Below are a few of his best tracks, absolutely classic Jamaican music. He will be missed.

Originally released on the Special Guest LP. Everything I find online shows the year as 1990 but I know it was at least from the 80s. This cut has had a rare 5-star rating in my iTunes library for 11 years. I never get tired of this song. Feeling kinda high:

MP3: Gregory Isaacs- Special Guest

The next two are from his Extra Classic LP from 1977:

MP3: Gregory Isaacs- Loving Pauper

MP3: Gregory Isaacs- Warriors

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