Various Artists

Good Times Bad Times (Rise and Shine Promotions)

The Constant Gardener
International stars Anthony B., Luciano, and Mikey General helped spearhead today's conscious reggae revival, while locals Sparticus, Sunshade, and Willpower are three Cleveland-based Jamaican expats. Good Times Bad Times presents these artists (and six others) side by side, over a single sizzlin' hot riddim track. Redundant to the uninitiated, the one-rhythm album is distinctive to dancehall lovers.

Good Times' percussive pulse seldom masks the fact that the riddim's melodic and versatile. Anthony B. comes with one of the strongest cuts, but even his powerful "High Roller" takes a back seat to Spectacular's exceptional "Ghetto Rollin'." Our locals display great promise -- in particular, Sparticus' dissonant title cut, which skillfully blends the genre's hopeful vibe with an aura of melancholy. Willpower's a real wordsmith, and his "I Know" delivers its ironic lyrics playfully. And Sunshade, a rising young talent, serves up "Tell Me Why" in a welcome original voice.

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