Sun | Apr 30, 2017

Tribute album coming for Gregory Isaacs

Published:Wednesday | March 2, 2011 | 3:00 AM
Isaacs
Saxophonist Dean Frazer - File photos
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 Dean Fraser gathers all-star cast of musicians for project

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Saxophonist Dean Fraser recently gathered an all-star cast to record a tribute album to lovers' rock legend Gregory Isaacs who died last October.

A release date has not been set, but it will be distributed by VP Records.

The 16-track set features some of Isaacs' biggest hit songs such as Front Door, Mr Brown, Night Nurse, Storm, Soon Forward, Tune In, Number One, The Border, Love Is Overdue and Red Rose.

There are also underground favourites such as My Only Lover and Stranger In Town.

"Gregory did a lot of great songs, some of them people don't readily know, so wi jus' lick some of dem over," Fraser said during an interview with The Gleaner.

Recording for the project started last December at the Grafton studio in east Kingston. Guitarist Mitchum Chin, bass player Eoin Hoilette, drummer Kirk Bennett, and keyboardist Bowie McLaughlin are some of the musicians who worked on the album.

Some of the top names in contemporary reggae put their stamp on the 'Cool Ruler's' standards. They include Tarrus Riley, who did Front Door, Gyptian, covering Number One, Jah Cure (Mr Brown), Cherine Anderson (Soon Forward) and Alaine (Tune In).

Etana added her touch to My Only Lover, while the California band Souljah reworked Cool Down Your Temper.

Though he was in demand as a horn player during Isaacs' prolific chart period of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Fraser said it was not until the 1990s, when the singer moved to producer Gussie Clarke, that they began regular collaborations.

Fraser said he did backing vocals for many of Isaacs' hits for Clarke, including the anthem Rumours.

Isaacs died last year from cancer in London at age 60, leaving a catalogue of hits that ranks alongside those of other grass-roots reggae singers like Alton Ellis, Dennis Brown, John Holt and Freddie McGregor.

Though he had chart success in the early and mid-1970s with All I Have Is Love, Love Is Overdue and Storm, it was not until late that decade that he hit his stride with laid-back ballads like Tune In and Soon Forward.

Isaacs and Zimbabwean singer King Isaac's Isaacs Meets Isaac album was nominated in the Best Reggae Album category at last month's Grammy Awards.