Special Request
Earl Sixteen
September 29, 2014

Track list
  1. Julia
  2. Dance The Music
  3. Hey Girl
  4. Crazy Woman
  5. Leggo Girl
  6. All That I Can See
  7. Sugar Love
  8. Peeka Boo
  9. Special Request
  10. OK My Love
  11. Love Me Baby
  12. In The Studio
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 3/4
Although having the same title, this isn't the cd reissue of the vinyl LP that was put out in the 1980s. This compilation features 5 tracks taken from Earl Sixteen's album "Julia", 6 tracks from the original "Special Request" LP plus "O.K. My Love" from "Songs Of Love And Hardship", all produced by Roy Cousins. Earl Sixteen actually recorded about 15 tunes for Cousins in the early 1980s. Apart from the riddim for a tune called "Lively Session" (done for Coxsone Dodd as well and featured on the "Showcase" album) which was recorded live in the studio with the Roots Radics band, most songs were voiced on riddims the producer already had on tape. Roy Cousins put out four different compilation sets (!) out of those recordings with Earl Sixteen, including the above mentioned three albums plus "Songs For A Reason". It more or less explains why this cd differs from the original LP.

Prior to his collaboration with Roy Cousins, Earl 'Sixteen' Daley, a singer gifted with a very unique voice, had worked with many other producers such as Joe Gibbs, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Augustus Pablo, Coxsone Dodd, Derrick Harriott and Mikey Dread. Earl Sixteen, who was influenced by American soul singers and Jamaican artists such as Jerry Butler, The Chi-Lites, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and the legendary Dennis Brown, had actually built his reputation with 7" singles such as "Malcolm X", "Freedom", "Dreadlocks Unite" and "Love Is A Feeling", which he cut for the aforementioned producers between 1975 and 1980.

Like most of his albums, this "Special Request" set is a good collection of tunes if a bit uneven. Included here are some outstanding tracks, but then there's also a track like "Dance The Music", a song with a soul disco funk feel which you better skip past before it spoils your listening pleasure. Underpinned by the "I Am In Love" riddim, a wicked slow-paced Roots Radics backdrop, the brilliant "Julia" opens this compilation in a great way with Earl Sixteen delivering this song with sad lyrics at his very best. Earl Sixteen has always been equally at home with lovers and roots material and thus lovers tracks like "Hey Girl", "Sugar Love", "O.K. My Love", "Love Me Baby" and the soulful "Crazy Woman" are worth hearing. It's probably because there's still a dark edge to Earl Sixteen's voice when he delivers a love song, which makes it a joy to hear him sing these kinda tunes. The album closer, "In The Studio", is all about name-dropping. Lyrically not that good, but the vocal delivery in combination with the riddim makes it a decent effort.

Not one of Earl Sixteen's most outstanding albums, but certainly one you should have in your collection.