A day or two ago, an old friend posted Gregory Isaacs's "Mr. Cop" on her Facebook page, as a response to the situation in Baltimore. It is a perfect simmer down song, and a lot of it is Isaacs's delivery. It's sort of like Pops Staples, nothing flashy, just enough this side of mellow to suck you in. I don't even know if that makes sense. But it was good hearing his voice. This is what I wrote five years ago, right after he died:
"I had been listening to him for a few years by the time I first saw him live, but I was unprepared for how he would absolutely own the audience that night. The whole room swayed, ladies swooned, and the entire club had a unified vibe, including the bartenders and staff. He reminded me of Al Green, with his laid back style and impeccable appearance. Like Green, he sang love songs, but he also sang of social injustices and songs for the downtrodden. I remember thinking that night that there was no more fitting moniker than the one I had heard so many times before it had real meaning. I got chills. I was witnessing 'the Cool Ruler.'"
Okay, now that ending sounds a little overly dramatic. Corny. But you get the idea. He was cool. He did rule, albeit within the confines of a live venue. By ruling I mean in both ways. His music has always ruled, but in that setting he was absolutely, literally, ruling the room.
Here's a mess of stuff. A word of warning to the synth-phobic: There may be some synth in some of these, but just a little bit. You can tune it out, or succumb. I don't care. But I'd start with the Prince Jammy dub version of "Slum". Though there's hardly any vocals, and where there are they're just background vocals, it'll get you in the mood. It did me. And dig the live set down there. Pretty clean for the Roxy.
~ NOTE: ALL MEDIA IS HOSTED BY THE BLOGS & SITES NAMED BELOW ~Listen:
Gregory Isaacs - Slum Dub mp3 at Earmilk Prince Jammy
Gregory Isaacs with U Brown - The Border mp3 at Grounds For Appeal Nine minutes!
Gregory Isaacs with Carlene Davis mp3 at ATumblr (?)
Gregory Isaacs - Night Nurse mp3 at Feems (?)
Gregory Isaacs - Night Nurse Dub mp3 at Feems (?)
Gregory Isaacs - Substitute mp3 at Lavachequilit (?)
Gregory Isaacs - Mr Cop (steaming) at YouTube
Gregory Isaacs - Mr Cop Dub (steaming) at YouTube Lee Perry
The live stuff:
Gregory Isaacs - Live at the Roxy at Fresh Bread 1982, Los Angeles. Twelve individual mp3s