1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This album is a fantastic listen. Now, I'm not a reggae/Jamaican music expert, but this sounds great. Alton's voice, now-desperate & pleading, now-powerful and angry, now-calmly romantic, is utterly soulful. The arrangements are simple, but feature that great, occasionally hypnotic Jamaican rhythm, with the great basslines, prancing keys, and the occasional flare of flaring horns. The recording is... primitive. The recording quality is sub-Elvis at Sun Records, maybe below the quality of the demos Elvis cut at Sun. (But if you really expect that much more than that from a Caribbean island at the beginning of its music industry, something's wrong with you.) Me personally, I don't care about recording quality that much, and I think the echoey, imperfect production sound adds to the charm. About half the songs feature Alton's sister, Hortense, and they are as good, if not better than Alton's. The one sore spot is the song Breakfast in Bed, which features that awful, harsh synthetic organ sound that Jamaican producers favored in the 80s. (the organ overdubs ARE from the 80s). This song just sounds off-key and obnoxious. It's easy enough to skip that track however, and almost every other track is a standout. One of the interesting parts is a 8-minute extended dub mix of Live and Learn that manages to keep all the vocals in, and fits wonderfully in the context of the album.
There are great covers including the Stylistic's "People Make the World Go Round" featuring Hortense, and a version of "Can't Get Used to Losing You" the rivals the English Beat's. Hortense's song "Cry Together, is a great dusty piece of country soul, heavy on Hammond organ, and free of any reggae affectations. The power of her voice is something to behold. There are many great Alton tracks, but the most off-beat ones are "Lord Deliver Us" and "When I'm Down." "Lord Deliver Us" is a rare social justice song that delivers a bit of Rasta gospel on an album filled with love songs, and "When I'm Down" is a relentlessly minor-key tune, featuring cascading instruments coming in and out, and spiritual lament and hopefulness. Listen to this if you enjoy Otis Redding, Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman", The Specials, The English Beat, the Pietaster's slow songs, The Marvellettes, The Shangri-Las, or the the early pre-Catch A Fire Bob Marley.