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Thursday, Jan 06 2011 | 15:57 Buy this now at GoodToGo (B2B)

Gregory Isaacs, the Jamaican-born reggae singer who was known as the “cool ruler” for his smooth, romantic singing style and who popularized the reggae subgenre known as lover’s rock, died of lung cancer October 25, 2010 at his home in London. Unlike so-called roots rock singers Bob Marley and Burning Spear, who popularized songs that reflected world politics and the Rastafarian culture, Gregory Isaacs was best known for his love songs, many of which he wrote.

With his seductive style, he often pleaded for love or begged a lover for understanding. Nattily attired with his fedora hats and sports jackets, Gregory Isaacs conveyed a combination of prowess and vulnerability that invited comparisons to American rhythm and blues singers Tyrone Davis and Marvin Gaye.

Writing in the New York Times, music critic Milo Miles called Mr. Isaacs “the most exquisite vocalist in reggae,” adding that “his lustful songs are not simple seductions or sexual boasts but sensuous daydreams, escapes from tribulation that invite the listener along.”

With the success of his release “Night Nurse” (1982), which he co-wrote, Gregory Isaacs was poised for international stardom. “Night Nurse,” with its sly innuendo – “I don’t wanna see no doc. I need attendance from my nurse around the clock. There’s no prescription for me, she’s my only remedy” – was a huge club hit for Gregory Isaacs in 1982.

Gregory Anthony Isaacs was born July 15, 1951, in the impoverished Denham Town neighborhood of Kingston, where he listened to American rhythm and blues balladeers Sam Cooke and Ben E. King. After winning several talent shows as a teenager, he first recorded in a duo with singer Winston Sinclair in 1968 and joined a vocal trio, the Concords, that recorded in the era’s popular rock steady style. In 1973, Mr. Isaacs struck out on his own. He started a record company, African Museum, with another Jamaican singer, Erroll Dunkley. There he had several hits in Jamaica with “My Only Lover” (1973), sometimes cited as the first lovers rock record, “Love Is Overdue” (1974) and “All I Have Is Love” (1976). A prominent company, Island Records, started releasing his recordings in the United States in 1982. Gregory Isaacs was so prolific that the website All Music Guide estimated he had appeared nearly 500 albums released in Jamaica, the U.S. and the U.K.

VP Records is now going to present an official 15 track ‘Best Of’ CD including all the hits that Gregory Isaacs is loved for: “Night Nurse”, “Soon Forward”, “My Number One”, “Mr. Brown”, “Love Is Overdue”, “Top Ten”, “Rumours”, a.o. Produced by Alvin Ranglin, Tappa Zukie, Gussie Clarke, Gregory Isaacs. All the tracks are the best available versions and are licensed courtesy Island Records, African Museum, G.G. Records, Anchor and Tappa Music.

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