New and Reissued Vinyl 

Reggae, dancehall, and dub

While dub can stray into the boring or disjointed, King Tubby's work on Kojak's 1981 boomshot, "Penitentiary," is a melodic adventure on 10" reissued wax. (Check www.dubvendor.co.uk) Like the late Dennis Brown's new greetings from The Promised Land (Blood and Fire), it's experimental yet undiluted soul.

See, production is like porridge: deceptively easy to screw up. Witness the new single-riddim, double-vinyl dancehall comps: The Wave and C-4 riddims are kind of cool, Knockout is burnt crispy, and Krazy and 44 Flat are just right.

The Wave (VP) is a bare-bones three-beat that Capleton gnaws on savagely in "A Nuff a Dem." Likewise, the plastic, explosive hip-hop beat C-4 (Greensleeves #38) has enough negative space to allow Anthony B's "Rastaman Sitten" to resonate fiercely. But both riddims could stand some flourishes.

In contrast, on Knockout (Greensleeves #36), Bounty Killer and Ward 21's slack jaws can't sustain the aggravating assault of two-note keyboard tweaks, hyper claps, and ring bells.

Thankfully, the synth-layered, sing-song Krazy (Greensleeves #37) finds the sweet spot between sterility and clutter, as on Elephant Man's title cut. Similarly, 44 Flat (VP) is a churning, tough beat that bands tightly with T.O.K.'s edgy harmonies on "Girls Galore."

In roots and lovers' rock also, excellence equals balance. A reggae Goldilocks -- call her Dreadilocks? -- might find siblings Morgan Heritage's uplifting melodies on Three in One a bit squeaky clean, despite crisp production by Bobby Digital. And while Jah Cure's Ghetto to Life offers slurred, soaring vocals over rich instrumentation, the artist's past incarceration may frighten the lass. She'll likely embrace the prolific Sizzla yet again, as his Light of My World (Charm) ignores Babylon to chase the tender gender across a range of production styles. But ultimately, it's Brit Don Campbell's tenor, slathered atop Lloyd Campbell's right-now production on the long-awaited Any Day Now (Joe Frasier), that will tuck Shorty into bed for the night, feeling as irie as could be.

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