Tag Archives: Lloyd Charmers

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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Two sides of Ken Boothe on new anthology

81-nsywlxjl-_sx522_Ken Boothe is one of those singers whose material has been compiled over and over and it’s hard to know which compilations that are worthy additions to a record collection.

A strong contender worthy shelf-space is the relatively new Everything I Own: The Lloyd Charmers Sessions 1971-1976, not to be confused with Everything I Own from 2007 or Everything I Own from 2003. This new compilation is something else.

This album is a double disc set focused on Ken Boothe’s five albums with singer turned producer Lloyd Charmers along with eight rare gems recorded for the same producer. Included are of course monster cuts like Crying Over You and Everything I Own, but also classics like Ken Boothe’s cover of Bill Withers’ Ain No Sunshine, Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On and Syl Johnson’s Is It Because I’m Black.

The period covered is Ken Boothe’s finest, even though he recorded superb rocksteady at Studio One in the 60s. He’s one of the best singers ever in Jamaica and his gritty tones are perfect for both militant social commentaries and smooth romance. And this excellent effort showcases both sides.

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Absolutely essential from The Uniques

The late and great Keith ”Slim” Smith is one of the many great voices in reggae music and his delicate falsetto was heavily inspired by early American soul and artists such as Curtis Mayfield. Slim Smith recorded several magic tunes up until his way too early death in 1973, only 25 years old.

Slim Smith was a key figure in vocal harmony groups The Techniques and later on in The Uniques, a group that’s been responsible for timeless classic such as My Conversation and People Rock Steady. A part from Slim Smith, the group consisted of Lloyd Charmers and Jimmy Riley, two singers that would later on find fame as solo vocalists and producers.

Several compilations have been dedicated to both Slim Smith himself and to The Uniques. And one would think that yet another would be a waste of both time and money. I beg to differ.

On October 17, Pressure Sounds drops Absolutely Rock Steady, a compilation dedicated to the works of The Uniques.

This is not the first compilation of material from The Uniques on Pressure Sounds. About ten years ago the label issued Watch This Sound.

You might think that many of the tunes appear on both albums, but Pete Holdsworth – project co-ordinator and founder of Pressure Sounds – has managed to find a new set of songs. The duplicates are set to a minimum.

Bunny Lee is the main producer on both albums and many of the tracks on Absolutely Rock Steady have been re-issued during the years, for example on two compilations from Trojan. But that doesn’t really matter.

These tunes have been chosen with great love and devotion. Included are both popular songs alongside some of their less well known ones. And there aren’t hardly any fillers, just great tunes, such as the beautiful Blinded By Love and the much versioned Let Me Go Girl. The compilation also include its answer tune, I’ll Let You Go (Let Me Go Boy) by Dawn Penn.

And – as usual with Pressure Sounds – the packaging is well above par with great sleeve notes and some nice footage.

If you already own several compilations with material from Slim Smith and The Uniques, then this compilation might be superfluous. But if you don’t, Absolutely Rock Steady is a great addition to the record collection. It’s timeless music for fans of soul, pop and reggae.

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