Eclectic and excellent Lloyd Charmers compilation

50659453Jamaican singer Lloyd Charmers is one of several artists that turned to production in the late 60s. He soon became highly influential and scored many hit songs with Ken Boothe. He also cut a number of lewd tracks as Lloydie & The Lowbites, but few of these crude songs are featured on the superb Lloyd Charmers compilation The Best of Lloyd Charmers.

This 50 track (!) set features two collections issued on Trojan in 1973 and 1974 along with loads of bonus material. Many reggae styles are represented – funky reggae, soulful reggae, pop reggae, skinhead reggae, psychedelic reggae, instrumentals, early roots and DJ pieces. And a slightly odd slice of reggaefied country.

The arrangements are often playful and fun. Check for example Dollars and Bonds where Lloyd Charmers acts as James Bond over a western-inspired rhythm. Or the criminally funky version of Shaft.

Best of the bunch is however BB Seaton’s beautiful I’ll Be Your Shelter, The Messengers’ raw Crowded City with its very relevant theme, Ken Boothe’s gorgeous Cherie Baby and Ken Parker’s Take A Message To Mary and its sparse dubstrumental counterpart Mother Mary.

This crucial anthology is painfully long overdue and showcases a ingenious producer as well as an array of Jamaica’s finest artists.

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