The Mighty Diamonds are Jamaica’s longest-serving vocal group and have been together since 1969. They also happen to be one of my favorite vocal harmony trios and that’s why I’m excited about the second release on UK’s Hot Milk Records.
It’s a reissue of The Mighty Diamonds (though credited to The Diamonds on the sleeve) Planet Earth and its dub companion Planet Mars Dub by The Icebreakers with The Diamonds, both sets originally released in 1978 on Richard Branson’s label Virgin.
The label has now taken both albums and put them on CD in a showcase style, meaning each song is followed by its dub version. The material is sourced from the original Virgin master tapes and the audio quality is flawless and sounds slicker and more polished than the original LP’s.
The Mighty Diamonds have borrowed a lot from their U.S. soul contemporaries, especially those coming from Philadelphia. Sugary harmonies, excellent songwriting and great feel for melodies are some of the main components in their music.
The Mighty Diamonds’ debut album I Need a Roof aka Right Time is a militant affair, whereas this album leans more towards their heavily criticized Ice On Fire album produced by U.S. soul and R&B giant Allen Toussaint.
The album was recorded with a number of notable Jamaican session musicians at the then newly built Compass Point Studio in Bahamas. The riddims are smooth, the harmonies delicate and lead vocalist Donald “Tabby” Shaw sings more heartfelt and pleading than ever before, just listen to the aching title track, with lyrics as relevant today as they were more than 30 years, or the beautiful Sweet Lady, the album’s only cover.
The dub versions lean more towards instrumentals and most of the songs are left more or less intact with vocals snippets dropping in and out of the mix.
The Mighty Diamonds have over the years put out soundtracks for revolutions and for romancing between the sheets. This catchy set contains a little of both and is now presented in the best possible way.
Available now on CD that comes with a booklet containing a long and informative essay by John Masouri.