007 (The Best of Desmond Dekker)
Here’s a little story. One night, a few years ago, I was driving an ex-girlfriend of mine home and she fell asleep immediately after getting in the car. I didn’t feel like I was driving alone for long though because I found a radio station that was playing song after amazing song by a guy I’d never heard of called Desmond Dekker. The music was some of the most uplifting ska I had ever heard and each song was as good or better than the last. I was thrilled to discover an artist that good and was eager to find out more about him. Sadly, I quickly discovered that the reason they were playing Desmond Dekker exclusively that night was because he had just died that day of a heart attack. It wasn’t too late for me to become a devoted fan of his music though. If you were looking to become a fan as well, I can’t imagine a better introduction than 007 (The Best of Desmond Dekker).
This expansive collection opens with “Israelites,” his best known and arguably greatest single, and continues on from there. From songs imbued with social conscience to songs about just having fun and dancing, you simply can’t find better music of this kind. Dekker took influence from American R&B and married it with Jamaican music creating something catchy and groovy and always upbeat. He may not have invented ska, but he was known as its “King” and songs like “Get Up, Edina,” “Rude Boy Train” and “Mount Zion” make it clear why. There’s no easier way to start a dance party than by throwing one of those songs on. This collection is massive, but it’s worth it. Once you start listening to Desmond Dekker you won’t want to stop.