KINGSTON, Jamaica - For nearly 40 years, Gregory Isaacs thrilled fans with a laid-back style that earned him the moniker, the ‘Cool Ruler’. Tad Records revisits some of the singer’s most romantic moments with Love Box, an 80-song set to be released, appropriately, on Valentine’s Day.
Isaacs died from cancer in London in October, 2010 at age 59. But many of the songs the west Kingston-born performer released during a prolific career remain lovers rock staples.
Several of those songs including Love Is Overdue and Night Nurse, are in Love Box, a four-CD package that tracks Isaacs’ days as a struggling singer on Orange Street (known back in the day as Beat Street) in west Kingston, to international stardom in the 1980s.
The songs were done for various producers including Tad Dawkins, founder of Tad Records who was Isaacs’ close friend. Disc three of Love Box contains songs from The Originals, a double album Isaacs recorded for the label in 2006.
Dawkins’ production of Love Is Overdue is on disc four. The original, produced by Alvin ‘GG’ Ranglin in 1974, was one of Isaacs’ first hits. Night Nurse, the 1982 smash co-produced by Isaacs and bass player Errol ‘Flabba’ Holt of the Roots Radics band, is also on the final disc.
Night Nurse remains Isaacs’ biggest hit. Singer Mick Hucknall of Simply Red fame covered the song for Sly and Robbie’s Grammy-winning Friends album in 1998. His version made the British national chart.
While there are other notable songs such as Soon Forward, Tune In and Top Ten, Love Box also contains sleeper hits such as Lonely Soldier, a cover of a song originally done by American singer Mike Williams in 1966. Isaacs’ self-produced version was released on his African Museum label in 1973.
Typical of Jamaican grassroots singers like Alton Ellis, John Holt, Delroy Wilson and Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs recorded for many producers which left a formidable catalogue.
Since his death, many of those songs have appeared on a handful of compilation albums released by Tad Records and VP Records.