THE reggae reissue (or oldies collections) market has always been vibrant, with record companies going to the vaults to reintroduce sounds of yesteryear to a new generation.
This year is shaping to be no different.
There are several compilations scheduled for release, the most ambitious being the Love Box, a four-CD set of ballads by singer Gregory Isaacs who died in October, 2010.
Love Box will be released today by Tad's International Record. It contains 80 songs that defined 'The Cool Ruler's 40-year career, including My Number One, Soon Forward, Tune In, Mr Brown, Ba Da, Front Door, Top Ten and Night Nurse.
Many of the songs on Love Box were minor hits for Isaacs, a giant of the lovers rock sound that originated in Britain during the late 1970s. Among those sleeper hits are Lonely Soldier (first done by American singer Mike Williams); My Only Lover, If I Don't Have You, Sunday Morning and Sun Shines For Me, a cover of the Bob Andy hit.
The multi-song package includes songs Isaacs produced for his African Museum label, as well as productions by Tad Dawkins, Alvin 'GG' Ranglin, Sly and Robbie and Errol 'Flabba' Holt, leader of the Roots Radics Band which recorded and toured for many years with the singer.
In April, VP Records continues its popular Reggae Anthology series with DubRockers, a compilation of songs by legendary dancehall producer Lloyd 'King Jammy's' James. The following month, the company releases another anthology by The Mighty Diamonds.
The latter is built around songs from the trio's golden era at the Channel One studio where they recorded roots classics such as Roof Over My Head, Africa and Right Time.
Come March, Toots and The Maytals' fantastic Live In Memphis will be reissued by the Universal Music Group. This in-concert album hears the group's lead singer Toots Hibbert putting his spin on soul standards like Otis Redding's Dreams to Remember and Knock On Wood, originally done by Eddie Floyd.
Record companies in Europe and North America have fared well in the last 20 years with reissue or compilation albums from the ska, rock steady and roots-reggae eras. Trojan in Britain has released voluminous sets from the ska and rock steady periods of the early and late 1960s.
The Universal Music Group, which owns the Island Records catalogue and Legacy Recordings, owners of the Columbia Records catalogue, have reissued outstanding albums by Bob Marley, Burning Spear and Peter Tosh.