Birmingham-based singer Jean McLean was in the 80s part of Sceptre, an overlooked reggae act that dropped their poorly distributed debut album Essence of Redemption Ina A Dif’rent Styley in 1984.
She dropped her debut album Everlasting two years ago, but apparently it didn’t sell too well and it’s now reissued by Sugar Shack Records. It’s more or less the same album, but with one huge difference – the track Ancestors, a cut originally recorded by Sceptre and included on the rare compilation Handsworth Revolution Vol. 1. The original is a strong roots piece and this new version is even better and a standout track on Everlasting. The deejay parts are espacially tasty and I hope she explores that talent on future releases.
Everlasting is produced and engineered by Paul Horton, who has been Grammy nominated for his work with Steel Pulse and Pato Banton. One of his most recent reggae efforts is however Black Symbol’s excellent Journey, released earlier this year.
This catchy set collects nine vocals, of which seven are originals and two are covers – Bob Marley’s Waiting in Vain and Dennis Brown’s Things in Life. It also collects seven dubby instrumentals mixed by Paul Horton.
It’s an album leaning much towards romance and classic love songs, for example album opener Meant 4 U and swinging, yet a bit too synthetic, Love Me Baby.
Another highlight is the anthemic Reggaebaby, an infectious tune reminiscent of Brina’s recent Real Reggae Music or John Holt’s Reggae From the Ghetto.
A set well-worth seeking out for fans of mature and timeless reggae music.