We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Designed largely to entice fanatical collectors, compilations of unreleased material often only demonstrate that there was a reason why such outtakes had never been previously issued. The music on The Upsetters A Go Go, however, is a welcome exception to the rule. This anthology consists of instrumental and vocal compositions by the studio musicians who worked with producer Lee Perry on tracks by Bob Marley and numerous other Jamaican singers during reggae’s formative period from “around” 1969 to 1974. “Around” because the horrendous liner notes don’t list dates or provide much information of any kind. Fortunately, the disc itself provides many sublime examples of the multitalented Upsetters’ role in the growth of Jamaican music. Offering dublike variations on slowed-down ska and rock steady beats, gospel-inspired pop, and eerie organ-led soul-influenced instrumentals, the Upsetters display the full chromatic spectrum once available throughout the now rigidly stratified reggae genre. “Graveyard Bully” and “Zang Zang Zay” are propelled by the bass and drums of future Wailers Aston and Carlton Barrett, while the guitar, keyboards, and production provide the now-commonplace reggae atmospherics. Keyboardist Glen Adams, who wrote and co-produced most of these tracks (and unearthed them for this collection), contributes subtle minor-key playing on “Soul Constitution,” while guitarist Reggie Lewis enlivens several numbers with spaghetti-western style strumming. Such musicianship makes this disc, despite its shoddy packaging, a fine introduction or addition to the Upsetters’ oeuvre.CP