Sings Tribute To Clement Coxsone Dodd
Al Campbell
Reggae Road-Jet Star
November 23, 2004

Track list
  1. Rain From The Sky
  2. Give It Back
  3. Beware
  4. Time To Pray
  5. Run Run
  6. I Was Born A Freeman
  7. Freedom, Justice & Equality
  8. She's Gone
  9. Two Shadows
  10. Take A Ride
  11. Sho Be Do Be
  12. I've Got To Go Back Home
  13. Dancing Mood
  14. Tell You Good Bye
  15. Wiser Than Solomon
  16. Why Birds Follow Spring
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 2/3
After the absolutely brilliant takes on Duke Reid's Treasure Isle classic riddims by Bitty Mc Lean on my album of the year "Peckings Presents... On Bond Street With The Supersonics" here is yet another well crafted album with a great vocalist, in this case ex-Thrillers member and highly rated solo singer Al Campbell paying tribute to the foundation, in this case the late, great Studio One founder Sir Clement Coxsone Dodd. Not as on the Bitty McLean over the original riddims, but over some very fine backing by UK riddim twins Mafia & Fluxy on this self-produced album. During the rocksteady era Al Campbell - born 1954 in Kingston, Jamaica - made his recording debut at the legendary Studio One as the frontman of a group called the Thrillers. After he had left the Thrillers he formed a duo with Freddie McGregor, but things really started off when he pursued a solo career. Over the past thirty years this distinctive singer never sticked to one particular style, but recorded successfully in just about all of the many styles through which reggae music has passed. Thus he has built an impressive collection of hit singles and albums recorded for himself and other leading producers, much of which can be purchased like "Sings Tribute To Clement Coxsone Dodd" on his own 'Reggae Road' imprint. Musical history has learned us that every now and then Al Campbell managed to come up with something a little special. Just one listen to this brand new album entitled "Sings Tribute To Clement Coxsone Dodd", and one can tell that this gifted songwriter and distinctive singer has done it again. Having proven to be equally at home with lovers as well as roots tunes this set showcases both styles in an excellent way, whether performing his own or other legendary singers' tunes, delivered by an artist whose unique and impassionate vocal style never fails to impress. With excellent tunes like the Delroy Wilson 1968 Studio One / Slim Smith & The Uniques' 1972 "Rain From The Sky", the anti-imperialist "Give It Back", the moving 'teach the children'-tune "Beware", "Time To Pray" and two more brilliant Delroy Wilson tunes, the 1969 Keith Hudson produced and 1972 for Clement Coxsone Dodd's Studio One re-recorded "Run Run", and later on the album 1966 "Dancing Mood" before Al revisits his together with Freddy McGregor in 1972 at Studio One recorded "Born A Free Man", this is a big collection of foundation tunes as you should hear them. Clean, crisp sounding but never too clean, with fabulous soulful vocals. "Freedom, Justice & Equality" pays tribute to Larry Marshall & Alvin Leslie's 1972 Studio One recording, "She's Gone" to the Heptones' seminal 1967 classic "Baby" and the broken heart song "Two Shadows" tell me that you're not alone might have been inspired by Jim Reeves' (!) late 50s "Two Shadows On Your Window". His 1968 as member of The Thrillers recorded Studio One tune "Take A Ride" was re-recorded solo at Studio One ten years later, and another 26 years later, Al Campbell is once again masterful in this piece. The Clarendonians 1966 "Sho Be Do Be" gets a splendid rendition as well, with a great fingerpicking guitar solo, before the Bob Andy songbook is opened, for 1966's "I've Got To Go Back Home" and two songs later "Tell You Good Bye" that was recorded as "I Don't Want To See You Cry"" by Ken Boothe in 1967 for Coxsone. A rarely heard tune is the cover of Skatalites' saxophone player Lester Sterling's 1968 Studio One vocal "Wiser Than Solomon" before the albums is brought to a close with a beautiful tune Alton Ellis penned for his sister Hortense Ellis "Why Birds Follow Spring". Despite the cover, that in the version I have is different from the one shown, even worse with its yellow and orange, really even less appealing. A very satisfying tribute to 'THE founder of foundation' album, that is a fine companion to hear back to back with Bitty McLean's trip down Memory Lane.