We Can Do It!
Kaya Productions / VPal Music
December 13, 2015
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
The brief flowering of rocksteady between the autumn of 1966 and the summer of 1968, saw the emergence of a new generation of talented youngsters in Jamaica, often singing in vocal groups. In particular The Melodians, The Paragons, The Techniques and The Heptones belonged to the upper echelon of rocksteady groups, while others like The Sensations, The Jamaicans, The Uniques and The Gaylads weren't far behind as they also came up with noteworthy hit songs.
The sweet vocal harmonies of these groups gave The Blackstones founder Leon Leiffer great inspiration to start a vocal group called The Mighty Soul Rebels in the late '60s. In 1972 the London-based group recorded a number of tunes for Count Shelly including "Judgement Day Is Near", "I'm The One Who Loves You" and "You Gonna Lose" and then a single entitled "Listen And Observe/What Is Love" for producer Junior Lincoln's Banana label. After that the group split up and Leon Leiffer took a break until he decided to return in the music arena. He formed The Blackstones in 1974 and released their first single, a cover version of The Melodians' hit song "Little Nut Tree", on Count Shelly Records in 1976.
The same year they recorded "Can't Get No Money To Spend", which was released on Dennis Harris' DIP label. And furthermore they did a cover of the Meditations' "Babylon Trap Them" for Dennis Harris, but this caused a split between the group and the label owner, because on their version of "Babylon Trap Them" credit was given to Dennis Brown, instead of the group name. The Blackstones then recorded "We Nag Go Suffer" for the young Keith 'Daddy Kool' Stone and went to No.1 in the New Musical Express Charts. Their early successes eventually led to the group recording their debut album "In Sight" in 1979, which was produced by Phil Pratt and featured riddims done by Sly & Robbie in Jamaica.
Since then The Blackstones have continued to perform and record, although the vocal outfit had various changes in their line-up. In 2002 the group's current line-up was formed when founding member Leon Leiffer and Tony Mahoney, who was a member of the group since the early '90s, were joined by St Andrew, Jamaica born Junior Bailey. The Blackstones have released a total of 13 albums, with the 2005 released "Tribute To Studio One" making reggae history on several counts. After 50 years of Studio One, The Blackstones were the first UK act recorded at Coxsone Dodd's headquarters in Kingston, it was the last production that the legendary producer personally oversaw and it was the last session held before Brentford Road was renamed Studio One Boulevard.
That's all history now. Today there's a brand new album from The Blackstones out on the streets entitled "We Can Dot Do It!". The latter learns that the relationship with Jamaica, which was made about a decade ago, is still intact and operational as this album features riddims recently recorded in Kingston by the Soul Defenders (the legendary Studio One session band) and the mighty Firehouse Crew. Only the riddim for "Time" was done by Mafia & Fluxy and Diggory Kenrick at Foggy Road Studio in London. Vocally and riddimwise this album is a superb collection. The Blackstones' beautifully harmonized tunes, in the tradition of the above mentioned vocal groups from Jamaica, are truly timeless and so are the top-notch riddims played by experienced musicians who have been involved in the recordings of countless great reggae songs that are part of the history of reggae music. Every tune is a real joy to listen to, although lyrically "Love Music (Sweet Reggae)" turns us off a bit. The riddim track is great, but the lyrics aren't. Besides very well done renditions of Carlton & The Shoes' roots killer "Better Days", The Chantells' "Eva", The Gayladds' "Funny Feeling" (later covered by Dennis Brown), The Abyssinians' "Love Comes & Goes" and Dennis Brown's "How Could I Leave", there are quite a few originals that, apart from making a real good impression, are our personal favourites. These include "Touch And Go", "Gangster Life", "Face Reality" and "Never Prosper"
A great album from The Blackstones, which show they can still do it... deliver quality reggae music.