VARIOUS; Good Times, 30th Anniversary Edition (Strut)

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Norman Jay celebrates the 30th anniversary of his Good Times Sound System and subsequent involvement with the Notting Hill Carnival with a welcome new compilation. The set comes with an extensive interview with Norman and includes previously unseen photos spanning the MBE’s career. However – and I’m sure Norman would agree – it’s what in the grooves that counts and I’m pleased to report that for this special collection our man’s kept up his impeccably high selection standards as he hops across black music genres with an ease born out of experience, passion and dedication to his task.

There’s all kinds of everything here – soul, disco, house, rap, reggae and jazz – but what bonds it all together is the quality of the music. Everyone will find their own favourites but as a soul man I’d vote for Terri Well’s cool ‘Who’s That Stranger’ (includes a great vibes break) and the golden oldie that is Little Anthony and the Imperials’ ‘I Don’t Have Time To Worry’. Good too to have Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Victory’ and – from the current crop – Avery Sunshine’s ‘I Got Sunshine’.

Reggae is represented by Jacob Miller’s infectious ‘Tired Fe Lick Weed In A Bush’; rare groove boogie comes in the shape of Zalmac’s hard-to-find ‘Dreamin”; the Basement Khemist flies the rap flag with ‘Everybody’; while the jazz element is represented by Ashley Slater, The Detroit Experiment and Attic Tree whose ‘Voar’ is a laid-back slice of Latin magic. The big rarity, I guess, is the housified groove that is ‘Forever This’ from Fries and Bridges. The track’s USP is that it features Cee-Lo Green on vocals. However, his part is so down in the mix you’d be hard pressed to identify him. The rest of the music comes from Mark Capanni, Ted Taylor, J Boogie’s Dubtronic Science, Dante, and Mario Biondi who offers his version of ‘My Girl’. He sings it beautifully and the arrangement and production are almost perfect copies of the Temptations’ original, which begs the question ‘Why?’ Don’t let that put you off the album though… it’s still a great cut and sits perfectly with all the rest.

(BB) 4/5