Three of Jamaican singer Freddie McGregor’s albums are for me all-time classics – Mr. McGregor, Bobby Babylon and Big Ship. All recorded and released in the late 70’s and early 80’s, prior to him switching to a poppier and more lovers-oriented direction focused on the crossover market.
I haven’t paid much attention to his output since the massive Big Ship album for Linval Thompson, even though he has put out lots of successful albums and singles, particularly the Jamaican Classic series in the 90’s.
Freddie McGregor’s latest album is his first in seven years – during this time he has mentored his acknowledged sons Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor and Chino – and continues in the maritime vein.
On Di Captain this smooth and soulful singer has set sail on a warm, elegant and polished musical journey accompanied by producers C & R McLeod, Dalton Browne, Steelie & Clevie and Stephen McGregor along with a number of acclaimed Jamaican and British musicians, including Leroy Sibbles from The Heptones on bass.
This 16-track collection has taken four years to complete and includes fresh originals, the festive and celebratory Move Up Jamaica, cover versions, a gentle take on The Heptones’ Equal Rights, romantic ballads, the heartfelt Love I Believe In, and strong cultural messages, as in the redo of his smash hit Bobby Babylon, here titled Standing Strong with Gappy Ranks’ sharing microphone duties.
Freddie McGregor’s voice has aged with dignity showcased on this easy-going set, even though I would have appreciated a little more nerve and adventurousness.
Di Captain is now available on CD and on digital platforms.
Most dancehall is released as singles or on one riddim compilations, and it’s been a while since I heard a full length album from a dancehall artist. I believe that Busy Signal’s D.O.B was my latest dancehall acquaintance as a full length album.
And now it’s time for another one, since Daniel “Chino” McGregor’s self titled debut album has hit the streets.
The Busy Signal set and Chino’s new album have one thing in common – both albums wander in several different directions, which is good, and bad.
On Chino, dancehall and one drop is the foundation. But Chino and his producing brother Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor have added R&B, hip-hop beats and some hip-hop rhyming. They also show an unhealthy interest in rock guitars, as in My Soul, Badness and the previously released Never Change (From Mawning).
Chino consists of 15 tunes and contains some real gems. The 90’s dancehall tribute Driving Me Insane featuring sweet voiced Denyque for one. It is heavily and heavenly inspired by the Shabba Ranks & Chevelle Franklyn crossover hit Mr. Loverman released in the early 90’s.
Other highlights include club banger I Am with its French-tinged guitar and accordion, the R&B smooth Mus Come Back and the upbeat one drop Leaving (Seal the Link).
This is a diverse set that offers something for everyone, and I would have been real pleased if those rock guitars would have been left out.