Leonard Dillon, Jamaican singer and front man of the influential reggae outfit The Ethiopians, passed in September 2011. His untimely death left the music world in general and the world of reggae with a huge gap to fill.
Happily enough U.S. Young Cub Records had recorded an album with him, an album that was posthumously released in March 2012.
Leonard Dillon paved the way for deep Rasta chanters such as Burning Spear and Joseph Hill of Culture with his rugged singing style as well as his honest, conscious and occasionally controversial social commentaries.
The Ethiopians started as a trio, but later became a duo. They recorded extensively in the 60’s and early 70’s and scored a number of smash hits, including the immortal rocksteady piece Train to Skaville, but also early reggae gems such as Everything Crash, Woman Capture Man and Hong Kong Flu for late producer Carl “Sir J.J” Johnson.
Due to the untimely death of Stephen Taylor – the other part of the duo – Leonard Dillon left the music business for two years in the 70’s, but came back strong in 1977 with the Winston “Niney” Holness produced roots scorcher Slave Call.
The Ethiopian collects nine tracks and has Leonard Dillon teaming up with members of Jamaican vocal group The Silvertones as well as members of U.S. reggae bands John Brown’s Body, 10 ft. Ganja Plant and Craig “Dub Fader” Welsch.
The live played backing is tight and bright with some nice brass arrangements, especially in Good You Do, which evolves into a dub version.
Leonard Dillon’s voice is darker than before and not as rugged as it used to be, and the fine-tuned vocal harmonizing by The Silvertones complements it nicely.
The Ethiopian is currently available on LP and digital download.