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Cat no. VPRL1705
Comin' in Tough, from reggae legend Freddie McGregor, doesn't break any new ground for the much-loved singer, but does clearly demonstrate why he's been such a consistent seller for almost four decades. The album's two lead tracks are also its two hit singles so far: the first, "Lock It Down," is an irresistibly catchy call to consciousness and "positivity"; the second is an equally hooky rewrite of Coxsone Dodd's classic "Bangarang" rhythm. The rest of the album is uneven, but generally quite good: for every disappointment (a completely unnecessary rewrite of the Wailers' rocksteady classic "Love and Affection," a meandering and lackluster original titled "Set the Program") there are at least two or three gems (like the brilliant "Pick Yourself Up," featuring Morgan Heritage). The album is produced by Bobby "Digital" Dixon, who provides a nice sonic mixture of modern smoothness and rootsy texture, thanks in part to the presence of such stellar sidemen as drummer William "Squidley" Cole, guitarist Dalton Browne, and bassist Donald "Danny Bassie" Dennis. This may not be the most essential title in McGregor's catalog, but it's a solid entry. ~ Rick Anderson