Record Review - 2 June 12 2002

Abbot & Costello, Lennon & McCartney, Penn & Teller, Elvis & the Colonel, Liam & Noel Gallagher. Most successful duos are comprised of an unlikely, even explosive, blending of personalities. Ultimately, it's that yin and yang that makes them work, with each supplying distinctive elements to the equation.

In reggae, the gruff toasting of Chaka Demus and the sweet soul singing of his sidekick, Pliers, have made them the rasta Simon & Garfunkel of ampersanded tag teams. With the legendary rhythm section of Sly & Robbie at the production helm, they were the first Jamaican act to notch three consecutive singles in the British top five.

With Demus' craggy but good-natured voice — similar to Peter Tosh — and Pliers's crooning like a dreadlocked Smokey Robinson on their signature song, "Murder She Wrote," the effect is mesmerizing. The tough-talking DJ/honeyed singing approach doesn't always click, especially with the substandard material that plagued the duo's individual releases. But when it does, the combination makes for some of the most stimulating and enjoyable reggae of the past decade.

Chaka Demus & Pliers play the Masquerade Music Park Sun., June 16.??