Hard Times
Carl Dawkins
Upstairs Music
CD / Digital Release
January 11, 2015

Track list
  1. Hard Times
  2. Mother's Song
  3. Living For The City
  4. Life Table
  5. Eternal Love
  6. Baby I Love You
  7. Feel Good
  8. Cry Me A River
  9. Love You Tonight
  10. Granulated Sugar
  11. Witness
  12. Gregory Croons A Tune
  13. Lonely Teardrops
  14. Sing A D Brown
  15. Ethiopia The Unconquerable Land
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Vocals : 5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4/5
CARL DAWKINS. "Mr. Satisfaction". "Ras Dawkins". One of the most enduring statesman from the Foundation. For over half a century, he has sweetened our Heart and Souls with his resonating tenor and humble spirit. His latest release, "HARD TIMES" is a sincere tribute to other musical greats and a great revisit of his earlier works. A delight day and night...

Carl Dawkins (born August 1, 1948) hails from Spanish Town, JA. He was musically inspired from an early stage; his father Joe Dawkins was a legendary drummer linked with such greats as Sonny Bradshaw. Carl had a huge debut in 1967 with the single "Baby I Love You"/"Hard Times" on the flip; a chart topper that is arguably one of the first Rocksteady hits. He continued his link with Sir J.J Johnson with "I'll Make It Up" and "I Love The Way You Are"(1968). During this era, he harmonized with The Rulers; better known as The Ethiopians. In 1970, he released the monster "Satisfaction" (that Milton Henry helped arrange). The following year, he led the Youth Professionals (The Wailers) while Bob Marley was in Sweden with Johnny Nash. The results were "Sound Of Thunder" and "Picture On The Wall"; both Upsetter productions. By 1976, he was recording for Geoffrey Chung ("Pluggy Brown") and released the classic set "Bumpity Road" for Harry J in 1977. The violence of the early 1980's kept him in a low profile, but is credited with creating "Heineken Startime" concert series (that was a great platform for legendary artists). He has remained in constant demand on the international circuit. He has released "Motherland Africa" (Abraham) and 2011's "A Reggae Quinella". "Hard Times" was released in 2013 but deserves rightful recognition.

Carl has always worked with the best and this set is no exception. Produced by the legendary Danny Breakenridge, it features an all star ensemble. Drums by Paul Gauntlett, Danny "Axman" Thompson, Ben Bow, Howard Smith and the late Carl Ayton. Bass by Paul, Danny, MIKEY SPICE and Gibby Morrison. Keys by Paul, Danny, Mallory Williams (up top) and Dave Richards. Guitars by Paul, Danny, Dwight Pickney, Dwayne Hoilett and Eugene Grey. Granite horn section of Chico Chin, David Madden, Tony Greene, Calvin Cameron and Andrew Stoch. Backing vox include Judy Mowatt and Leo Hall. Legendary studios like Treasure Isle, Harry J's, Aquarius, I-Tek and Record Factory with engineers like Sylvan Morris, Errol Brown, Hugh Palmer and Jason Sterling.

This set crackles open with a revisit of Hard Times. His tenor is on par with the power of Otis Redding and Ben E. King and he delivers with a soulful approach that is his trademark. Pure masterclass with vivid guitar work. This song is as relevant today as it was over forty years ago! Mother's Song is power. A musical portrait of his Divine vocalisms with superb arrangement and harmony. He relicks Stevie Wonder's Living For The City with style and purpose. This song is not torn down or refixed; just a veteran tribute over a flowing riddim. Well done! Life Table is a horn rich anthem that is classic Reggae injected with soul fire. Carl is an artiste that conveys true emotion in every utterance. Resonating long after the last dance. Jackie Opel's Eternal Love is visited just nice. Riding a rich riddim, he soars mightily and delivers a fitting tribute to Mr. Opel. Carl revisits his groundbreaker Baby I Love You. This man has had incredible talent from the start and his magical gift hasn't diminished in the slightest. Guaranteed to rock and swing with tasteful production and arrangement. Carl covered James Brown's Feel Good in 1971 to massive response. Despite the Digital atmosphere, he rides it all the way strong embedded with Soulful vibes. No easy song to tackle but this is hook, line and sinker. Jackie Opel's Cry Me A River is given the upmost respect. Carl lays it all out over the instantly engaging riddim ripe with majestic and mournful horns. Boom!

Love You Tonight is a hot number. Full vocal range on display to absolute delight. He performed this song at "Rebel Salute" some years ago and he is as dynamic on stage as in studio. He delivers a live performance that will etch in your Soul continually. Granulated Sugar is a great dedication to the late SUGAR MINOTT. Over a killer riddim, Carl is sweet as ever with great harmony from Phillip Leo. A solid and unique skanking tribute! Witness is a reality lick that ranks as one of his best. He delivers keen observation with lively vibration. Gregory Croons A Tune is a killer tribute to The Cool Ruler. He manages to integrate numerous Mr. Isaacs standards into a bubbling package that delivers. This man could sing a nursery rhyme and have the same powerful effect. Jackie Wilson's Lonely Teardrops is given the Dawkins treatment and the Royal prescription heals through and true. An insight to his earliest influences, it comes full circle here. Sing A D Brown continues his tribute to another bredrin that has flown home to Mt. Zion. His admiration of DENNIS EMMANUEL BROWN is felt all the way strong and raw emotion runs high. An amazing track. We close with Ethiopia The Unconquerable Land; a vintage number niced up by the angelic voice of Judy Mowatt. An example of his Roots credentials; a slice of Mt. Zion.

For some reason, "Hard Times" has not created the impact that it deserves. Carl Dawkins is a man that takes his time releasing albums and when the time is right; the results are nothing short of amazing. A portrait of true Rocksteady and Reggae music every time. "Hard Times" has plenty for even the most discerning listener. Superb production from Mr. Breakenridge and a monumental collection of the Dawkins touch. For those that have this classic in your collection, you know the magic. For those that haven't heard this set, do not hesitate on picking up a copy of Real Authentic Sound. GO DEH!!