Reviewed! Various Artists - Reggae's Gone Country

Purchase - Reggae's Gone Country
Various Artists
Reggae's Gone Country
Electra Nashville/VP Records

The premise of Reggae's Gone Country is fairly simple - 13 classic and timeless country tracks, 13 of today’s top reggae artists. It may seem like a strange concept at first, but after listening you’ll see that it’s a concept that works. Hey, if punk band can cover everything under the sun with their Punk Goes… series, why can’t reggae artists do the same? Well, the proof is in the pudding as they say, and Reggae's Gone Country is the pudding.

The Gaitlin Brothers’ 1979 hit tune “California” kicks off Reggae's Gone Country, and Larry Gaitlin himself even gets in on the action, teaming Romain Virgo, 2007 winner of Rising Stars (Jamaican version of American Idol). The 21-year-old dynamo singer does the timeless work justice, and of course having Gaitlin in toe on vocals doesn’t hurt. Speaking of young dynamos, Duane Stephenson takes on Eddie Rabbit’s “Suspicions” later on in the record, which is one of the albums standouts, which there are plenty of here. Another standout is Busy Signal’s rendition of Kenny Rogers’ “the Gambler,” and even though it serves here as the closing track, it is one that surely needs to be heard, because you’ve never heard it performed this way. George Strait’s “the Chair,” performed by Tarrus Riley is also a song not to be missed, one that could easily top both reggae and country charts if given the opportunity.

Don’t think for a second that Reggae's Gone Country is a man’s game, because it isn’t. Etana’s cover of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and Tessanne Chin’s version of Crystal Gayle’s “Don’t Make My Brown Eyes Blue” show that on Reggae's Gone Country girls can do anything the boys can, if not better.

You don’t know the artists, but you know the songs - which is where Reggae's Gone Country succeeds – it’s new, it’s unique and it is fresh. And in today’s music scene, for something to be new, fresh and invited is near unheard of.  

Grade: B
Go Download: “The Gambler”