The Blackstones Salute Slim Smith & The Uniques
The Blackstones
Jackpot US
Digital Release
April 25, 2011

The Blackstones Salute Slim Smith & the Uniques - The Blackstones Track list
  1. The Beatitude (Blessed Are The Meek)
  2. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
  3. Give Me Some More Of Your Loving
  4. My Conversation
  5. Let Me Go Girl
  6. Out Of Love
  7. Girl Of My Dreams
  8. If I Could Build My Whole World Around You
  9. Too Proud To Beg
  10. The Time Has Come
  11. Everybody Needs Love
  12. Watch This Sound
  13. I've Found That I Have Lost
  14. Please Don't Go (Give Me A Love)
  15. Love and Devotion
  16. One Fine Day (Hooray)
  17. Slip Away
  18. Lessons In Love
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Vocals : 5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 4 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 4
The vocal harmony group The Blackstones, formed by Leon Leiffer in 1974, was discovered by Dennis Harris during one of the regular music auditions that took place in London in those days. For Dennis Harris, who owned a studio called DIP, which created the music, and a shop that sold the music also in south London, they recorded their first official debut single. Due to disagreements they left Harris and teamed up with Keith Stone aka Daddy Kool for whom they recorded the single "We Nah Go Suffer" in 1976, which topped the British reggae chart.

This success led to recording sessions with Phil Pratt using riddim tracks recorded at Channel One Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, and vocals added at Chalk Farm studios. These sessions resulted in the group's debut album "Insight", released in 1979. The Blackstones, whose line-up changed a few times, released a total of 11 albums including "Tribute To Studio One". It was a historical release as the Blackstones was the one and only UK act that recorded under the watchful guidance of the legendary producer at his renown studio at Brentfort Road in Kingston, Jamaica. Besides that they were actually one of the last artists who worked with Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, signed a deal with his Studio One label and recorded a full length album shortly before he died in 2004.

For the "Tribute To Studio One" album they sang over original riddims from Studio One's heyday in the 1960s, and the same has been done for their latest album, the digitally released "The Blackstones Salute Slim Smith & The Uniques". For this project veteran producer Bunny "Striker" Lee has given them the original riddim tracks to voice cover versions of tunes that forever will be associated with Slim Smith & The Uniques (being Jimmy Riley & Lloyd Charmers). Just like groups such as The Heptones, The Techniques, The Melodians and The Sensations, the latter were known and loved for beautifully harmonized tunes, and as The Blackstones have always worked in the tradition of the Jamaican harmony groups it's no real surprise that they have managed to stay very close to the originals.

This collection takes the listener back to the Rocksteady era (1966-68), when the supremely talented trio of Slim Smith, Jimmy Riley and Lloyd Charmers recorded many superb tunes for Bunny Lee and his friend Winston Lowe. Exquisite soulful songs such as "The Beautitude (Blessed Are The Meek)", "Give Me A Love" (here titled "Give Me Some More Of Your Loving"), "My Conversation", "Let Me Go Girl", "Everybody Needs Love" and "Give Me Some More" (listed as "Please Don't Go (Give Me A Love)") are bonafied classics, and although it's almost impossible to equal the original versions especially because Slim Smith's emotioned-racked high tenor was always in a class of its own, The Blackstones have succeeded to come up with a topnotch effort. And thus it's truly a joy to listen to all those great songs from the past, which are delivered with style and grace.

Overall this is a wonderful release and salute from Leon Leiffer, Tony Mahoney, and Earl "Junior" Bailey, aka The Blackstones.