GREGORY ISAACS epitomizes the strengths of lovers' rock, reggae's crooning paean to the flesh. His delivery is soft and lilting with an understated sexual confidence akin to that of later-day Marvin Gaye and abetted by a similar streak of lasciviousness. Best of all, Isaacs knows how to turn a melody so that its sing-song cadences skip across a beat like a pebble across a pond. For reggae romance, you couldn't ask for better.
But you might want something a bit stronger than "Out Deh!," Isaacs' latest album. The singing's fine, with Isaacs indulging in some overdubbed harmonizing on "Sheila" that turns him into a one-man Mighty Diamonds. So are the grooves, thanks to the Roots Radicks, perhaps the most rock-steady rhythm section in reggae today.
The songs, however, leave something to be desired. From the tired innuendos of "Private Secretary," which merely transfers the formula of last year's hit "Night Nurse" to a new occupation, to the predictable profession of love in "Yes, I Do," it's as if Isaacs is on automatic pilot. There are some interesting moments in the title song, thanks in large part to the hi-hat work of drummer "Style" Scott. But only the strongly melodic "Love Me With Feeling," ranks with Isaacs' best. GREGORY ISAACS -- "Out Deh!" (Mango MLPS 9748); appearing Friday through Sunday at Kilimanjaro's Heritage Hall.