The Uniques – Absolutely The… Uniques

by May 24, 2019Artist, Reviews

The Uniques - Absolutely The...Uniques
The Uniques - Absolutely The...Uniques

Release Info

The Uniques – Absolutely The… Uniques

Label: Music on Vinyl | Format: LP | Street date: May 24, 2019 |Label Website

1. Standing In
2. Just A Mirage
3. Gypsy Woman
4. My Conversation
5. You’ll Lose A Precious Love
6. That’s The Way Love Is
7. Freedom Song
8. Run Come
9. Out Of Love
10. Watch This Sound
11. Speak No Evil
12. A Yuh
Slim Smith

The Uniques, one of the most popular and enduring vocal harmony groups of the rocksteady era, had various line-ups. After he had left The Techniques in 1966, Keith ‘Slim’ Smith formed his own vocal group called The Uniques, with Derrick Morgan and Ken Boothe being the other members. However this first line-up did not last very long and former Techniques member Franklyn White and Roy Shirley joined Slim Smith to form a new version of The Uniques. They released a few singles including the R&B influenced “Do Me Good” for Ken Lack’s Caltone imprint. Despite a promising start the group soon disbanded. With BB Seaton and Lloyd Charmers the group released Let Me Go Girl and Never Let Me Go, but BB Seaton embarked on a successful career with The Gaylads.

The Uniques v.2

The next generation Uniques was born when Jimmy Riley was enlisted as third vocalist. The new line-up debuted with Watch This Sound, a cover version of Stephen Stills’ For What It’s Worth (a major hit for Stills’ group Buffalo Springfield). The song became a popular tune on the island and a string of subsequent singles, many produced by Bunny Lee, followed. Arguably their biggest tune was My Conversation with its captivating melody and simple but effective three note piano hook. Later, in 1974, producer Rupie Edwards used the riddim to create the first one-riddim album Yamaha Skank.

Tramp Records

In the meantime the trio set up their own Tramp record label with the assistance of local businessman, Winston Lowe. Soon more hits followed: Blessed Are The Meek and Love And Devotion. As 1968 draw to an end the debut album Absolutely The… Uniques was released. The LP collected their most successful singles and was released in the UK on the Trojan label.

Break Up

Slim Smith and Lloyd Charmers were enjoying significant success with solo works and by the spring of 1969 the group broke up and all three vocalists continued to make significant contributions to Jamaican popular music. On the night of October 9th 1972 the incomparable singer Slim Smith, who had a great impact on Jamaican music, tragically died. The group name was briefly revived by Jimmy Riley and Cornell Campbell in 1977 for the album Give Thanks, and again in 1997 with Al Campbell joining Cornell Campbell and Jimmy Riley on the album The Uniques.

Jimmy Riley / Lloyd Charmers

Lloyd Charmers, mainly based in the UK, became a successful vocalist and producer. He died of an heart attack in December 2012. Jimmy Riley had several major hits in the 1970s and continued to be successful in the 1980s, working for Sly & Robbie’s Taxi productions. In 1983, Riley topped the UK reggae chart with his version of Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing. Riley’s son Tarrus followed him into music and the success of Tarrus gave a boost to Jimmy’s career. He died on the morning of 23 March 2016 in New York from cancer, aged 68.

Music On Vinyl

The Dutch vinyl only (high quality 180g LP’s and 7# pressings) reissue label Music On Vinyl has already earned respect in the reggae scene with superb vinyl reissues of classic albums. Recently they unleashed Bob Andy’s 1978 album Lots Of Love And I, Duke Reid’s rocksteady album Here Comes The Duke and Desmond Dekker’s 007 (Shanty Town). Some of their earlier releases are Errol Brown & The Revolutionaries’ Dubb Everlasting, Don Drummond’s Memorial Album, Alton Ellis’ Mr. Soul Of Jamaica and I Roy’s Gussie Presenting I Roy.

The Uniques – Absolutely The… Uniques

The 1968 LP of the trio brings so many great tunes, hits as well as lesser known pieces. The vocal trio fully benefited from Slim Smith’s passionate, soulful voice, which had an almost manic edge, while Lloyd Charmers and Jimmy Riley took care of the sweet backing vocals. The backing was provided by Jamaica’s top talents of that time: Hux Brown, Winston Grennan, Family Man, Joe Isaacs, Bobby Aitken, Alva Lewis, Carlie Barrett, Glen Adams, Winston Wright, Val Bennett, Lester Sterling and Vin Gordon.

Hits & Covers

Anyone who thinks of himself as a reggae fan will certainly know and love many of tunes on the LP. The album opens in full force with the up-tempo composition Standing In. And there are the boom shot hits like My Conversation, Follow This Sound and Love And Devotion. These are interspersed with soulful re-interpretations of classic Temptations pieces such as Just A Mirage and You’ll Lose A Precious Love. The soul hits by Curtis Mayfield were extremely popular on the island. The album carries a splendid cover version of Mayfield’s Gypsy Woman. Quite special is their version of That’s The Way Love Is. It was an Isley Brothers hit, very uptempo and swinging, but The Uniques turned it into a very smooth and soulful rocksteady tune. Even 60 years after its initial release Speak No Evil hasn’t lost nothing of its charm! Such a great tune, combining the sweetness of rocksteady with early reggae influences.

Standing In

My Conversation

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