Ken Boothe – Freedom Street
Ken Boothe – Freedom Street
Label: Music On Vinyl | Format: LP | Street date: August 7, 2020 | Website label
- Freedom Street
- Why Baby Why
- Mr. Wind
- It’s Gonna Take A Miracle
- Love And Unity
- Drums Of Freedom
- Now I Know
- In The Summertime
- Get Close To You
Emerging in Kingston in the 1960s, Ken Boothe is a protege of the Studio One stable of Coxsone Dodd. In 1967 Dodd released the seminal Mr. Rock Steady album, capturing Ken’s tender youthful phrasing. Dodd released two more albums, and his rocksteady interpretation of Sandie Shaw’s Puppet On A String became a hit in the UK. During his stint at Studio One he recorded several classic tunes like Moving Away, You’re No Good, Thinking and Train Is Coming. He became a household name on the island, known and loved for his emotive and soulful voice.
He switched to producer Leslie Kong for the album Freedom Street, and he topped the UK charts in 1974 with the Lloyd Charmers produced cover Everything I Own. He kept recording for an array of producers in the 70s, 80s, and 90s with moderate commercial success. In 1996 he scored with the remake of his Studio One hit Train Is Coming a duet with Shaggy, for the movie Money Train. The release of the Inna De Yard album in 2017 got rave reviews.
Music On Vinyl
This Dutch vinyl only reissue label is quite active with their superb vinyl reissues of classic reggae albums. Their catalog contains several classic Jamaican albums. Check out these classic sets: Lee Perry’s The Upsetters – Return Of Django. There’s also the 1976 classic Jezebel by Justin Hinds & The Dominoes, and African Anthem Dubwise by the late, great Mikey Dread. One of their latest efforts is the 1970 LP Freedom Street by Ken Boothe.
Chinese Jamaican record producer Leslie Kong played an important role in launching the careers of several Jamaican artists. His Beverley’s Records label became synonymous for quality productions by the likes of The Wailers, Ken Boothe, Jimmy Cliff, The Melodians…the list is almost endless. The Beverley’s All-Stars, comprising musicians like Jackie Jackson, Winston Wright, Hux Brown, Rad Bryan, Paul Douglas, and Winston Grennan, provided an adequate backdrop for his roster of artists. In 1970 he released the Ken Boothe album Freedom Street.
The ten track album is more or less a combination project of BB Seaton’s writing skills and Ken Boothe’s vocal capabilities. BB Seaton worked as a writer for several Jamaican labels, like Studio One, Tip Top Records, Beverley’s Records, and Treasure Isle. No less than half of the tunes here are penned by BB Seaton. There are three covers of pop songs, one tune written by Brent Dowe of the Melodians and one by Ken.
The title track was a massive hit in Jamaica and the UK, an emotional call for unity and freedom. Why Baby Why was another hit for Ken. With pain in his heart, he tells us about a love gone bad. Mr. Wind is a little gem, while It’s Gonna Take A Miracle is one of the best tunes from this set. In our opinion, one of the best renditions of this 1965 soul tune by The Royalettes. The uptempo message song Love And Unity closes Side A.
Side B opens with the solid conscious song Drums Of Freedom. On Now I Know Ken shares with us more love sorrow. From the remaining three songs, only one is worth checking out. That is Get Close To You, an appealing lovers song written Brent Dowe from The Melodians. The version of Mungo Jerry’s In The Summertime is superfluous. Ken’s version of the Rolling Stones’ hit tune Satifaction is very similar to Otis Redding’s soul version of the song.