As one of Jamaica’s top soulful Reggae operators who was at his peak in the 1970’s and this two CD collection demonstrates this. The first CD covers a brace of best-selling albums by Marcia Griffiths and Willie Lindo. This collection shows why both artists gained a top reputation in the world od Jamaican music. CD 1 starts off with Marcia Griffiths before moving to Willie Lindo and CD 2 starts with alternative takes of the Marcia Griffiths album, finishing with various tracks all produced by Lloyd Charmers.
MARCIA GRIFFITHS – SWEET BITTER LOVE
1. THE FIRST TIME EVER I SAW YOUR FACE. Originally recorded by Roberta Flack this version will be familiar with Reggae fans and comes with a punchy rhythm track. The vocal is top-notch from one of Jamaica’s top female artists. 2. PLAY ME. Starting with an instrumental opening it moves into a mid-tempo sound, again with a punchy rhythm track, Marcia is helped-out by female backing singers from time-to-time. A pop version was recorded by Neil Diamond. 3. THERE’S NO ME WITHOUT YOU. This comes mid-tempo and has an even more punchy rhythm track. The Marcia Griffiths vocal is very soulful and again a female chorus helps-out along with a male vocalist. A song recorded by various artists over the years. 4. JUST DON’T WANT TO BE LONELY. One of my favourite recordings by Marcia Griffiths and equal to the version by Freddie McGregor. Nice punchy rhythm track and plenty of backing vocalists. Great song, great version and the song recorded by various artists over the years. 5. GYPSY MAN. This song has been recorded by various artists with the title ‘Gypsy Woman’ and the title change is no surprise. A mid-tempo sound with a cool, soulful vocal and another recording with female backing singers. The punchy rhythm is just right for the overall make-up of this track and the song was written by Curtis Mayfield, recorded by various artists. 6. SWEET BITTER LOVE. Giving its title to the overall album this comes with a less punchy rhythm track. Once again this is mid-tempo and floats-along, a foot-tapping number. Great vocals and backing, what more could you want. The song was written by Van McCoy of ‘The Hustle’ fame. 7. HERE I AM (COME AND TAKE ME). This laid-back version starts off with an instrumental intro before moving into a slower paced number. The Reggae rhythm is not prominent but along with more top vocals from Marcia and female backing vocalists it ads up to a very pleasing sound, also recorded by Skin Flesh & Bones, UB40, Al Green. 8. EVERYTHING I OWN. The Reggae version one remembers is the UK chart hit by Ken Boothe and this is its equal in many ways. It comes with a less prominent Reggae rhythm track and has a lengthy instrumental intro. The pop version one remembers is by Bread and lead-singer David Gates wrote the song. 9. GREEN GRASSHOPPER. This comes as a non-Reggae number with a laid-back mid-tempo rhythm track. The vocal is soulful and floats-along with the help of female backing vocalists from time-to-time. Out as a single in Jamaica on the Wild Flower label in 1975. 10. CHILDREN AT PLAY. An atmospheric feel to this slower number that again comes with a non-Reggae rhythm track. The vocal shows off Marcia’s soulful vocal range to the full. The song was written by Louis Davidson a Jamaican recording engineer at Federal Records studio in Jamaica. 11. PLAY ME fest. Lloyd Charmers. This is a version of the previously reviewed track. This time around Marcia is joined by Lloyd Charmers and together they put another slant on the song. This recording is produced by Lloyd Charmers, it came out on the Trojan label as a 7″ in 1974 and is the final track from the original album.
WILLIE LINDO – FAR & DISTANT
12. DRUM SONG. First heard this tune back in the 60s on the album ‘Something Special’ played by Jackie Mittoo and this version is equally good. Top quality guitar work from Lindo over a fast-moving rhythm track and a fine way to start the original album. The album was released in Jamaica on the Wild Flower label in 1974. 13. DARKER SHADE OF BLACK (NORWEGIAN WOOD). More fine guitar work over a chug-along rhythm track and is an instrumental version of a song written and recorded by The Beatles, amongst others. The tune lends itself well to the Reggae genre and is as with the previous track composed by Jackie Mittoo. 14. MIDNIGHT (TRAIN TO GEORGIA). This has been recorded vocally by various artists over the years, Brook Benton, Glady’s Knight & The Pips to name but two. This Reggae version is a classic Jamaican instrumental sound and comes with a female chorus from time-to-time. 15. SAMBA PA TI. Starting off slowly this then moves into a mid-tempo version of the Santana recording from the 70,s. This version is a classic Reggae instrumental track that has Lindo behind a heavy and pulsating rhythm track. As the reader probably knows, this was written by Carlos Santana. 16. CHOPPER. Composed by Lloyd Charmers and is a float-along track which this time has Lindo fronting a laid-back rhythm track. Another fine instrumental track on which the artist excels. 17. HERE I AM BABY. This tune was previously reviewed on the Marcia Griffiths album and here we listen to an instrumental version that is mid-tempo. Willie Lindo is full-on with his classic guitar work and overall this is tops in the world of instrumental Reggae. This tune has been recorded by various artists, Skin, Flesh & Bones, UB40 in a Reggae vein and Al Green as a Soul number, to name a few. 18. CHARMERS MOOD. Obviously the title refers to Lloyd Charmers and here we listen to a mid-tempo instrumental that floats-along. The rhythm track is punchy and the tune gets the feet-tapping, it comes from the pen of Lloyd Charmers. For the record the bass guitar is by Lloyd Parks, keyboard by Lloyd Charmers, brass by Federal Soul Givers. 19. MYSTIC MOOD. One knows the tune from somewhere, not sure where. This is a haunting tune and Lindo is full-on with more classic guitar work. The rhythm is again mid-tempo and falls in place nicely. A top track from the album. 20. BREEZING. If you like the original George Benson recording then this will not disappoint. More floating guitar work and a cool rhythm track. A classic version of a top tune. Written by Soul artist Bobby Womack. 21. HOLLY HOLY. This may well be familiar to the listener as it has been recorded by various artists over the years, in a Reggae vein by Fabulous Five. This version comes mid-tempo and apart from the guitar work we hear a chorus most of the way through. 22. MOONLIGHT. This Lloyd Charmer production is again a cool sound with more of the same from Lindo. Some chorus work at times throughout and a pleasing way to finish looking at the original album.
MARCIA GRIFFITHS ‘SWEET BITTER LOVE’ – THE ALTERNATIVE TAKES
The first ten tracks feature alternative versions of the Marcia Griffith’s original album with eight previously unissued mixes. A full list of tracks is as below and one has moved from these to the ten bonus tracks, all Lloyd Charmers productions from 1974.
1 The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Alt.Mix)
2 There’s No More Me Without You (Alt.Mix)
3 I Just Do’t Want To Be Lonely (Alt.Mix)
4 Gypsy Man (Alt.Mix)
5 Here I Am (Come And Take Me) (Alt.Mix)
6 Everything I Own (Alt.Mix)
7 Green Grasshopper (Alt.Mix)
8 Children At Play (Alt.Mix)
9 Sweet Bitter Love (7″ Mix)
10 Play Me (7″ Mix)
BONUS TRACKS (A selection)
11. FIRE BURNING – Bob Andy. A mid-tempo number written by under his real name Keith Anderson and on which he is joined by one backing singer. The rhythm track comes punchy and the vocal is worth listening to as it is still relevant today. This is a great track from a great artist. Released in Jamaica on the Wild Flower label and on the Harry J label in the UK in 1974. 13. I’M A CHANGED MAN – B.B Seaton. This starts with a chorus over which Seaton gives a full-on vocal with the chorus appearing at times throughout. The rhythm track comes without percussion and this track has a Soul Reggae feel. 14. YOU MAKE ME FEEL BRAND NEW – Boris Gardner. If you remember the UK hit by The Stylistics then I doubt if you will be disappointed with this Boris Gardner version. We remember Gardner on his recording of ‘Elizabethan Reggae’ as a music but he has come up with some fine vocal releases over the years and this is no exception. The vocal is Soulful and the rhythm track is mid-tempo, in one’s opinion this should equally have been a hit when released in the UK. Released in Jamaica on the Wild Flower label and in the UK on Trojan label in 1986. 16. JOHNNY REGGAE – Big Youth. This comes as a version of the song made popular in the UK by novelty female group The Piglets and lends itself well to the Big Youth style. As one would expect the vocal is spoken not sung and Big Youth has turned a low par song into a good track. This was released in Jamaica on the Wild Flower label and in the USA on the Clocktower label in 1977. 19. LET’S GET IT ON (version) – Lloyd Charmers. Remember the Marvin Gaye hit version, this is a piano orientated version with a female chorus at times. The song is well-suited to the make-up of this recording and it floats along nicely. Can be found on the Trojan box set ‘Club Reggae’.
The two featured albums give the listener an insight into the recording work of two important artists in the world of Jamaican music. Starting off with Marcia Griffiths who may be best known for her duet on the big UK hit ‘Young Gifted And Black’, with the featured album one realises that Marcia was not a one-trick-pony. Apart from her solo career she was also a member of the female outfit The I Threes along with Judy Mowatt and Rita Marley. The second featured album gives an insight into songwriter, producer and instrumentalised Willie Lindon real name Wilbert “Willie” Lindo. On the album Willie comes up with some fine versions of songs that will no doubt be familiar to most music lovers. With various high-quality bonus tracks we end up with yet another top- rated collection from Cherry Red Records and as usual it comes with a very informative eight-page booklet. At £14 99 it would make a good addition to any music collection.