Music Is My Calling
Irie Sounds International
March 31, 2012
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
Although the legendary roots singer Fred Locks (born Stafford Elliott, 1950, Kingston, Jamaica) has never been a prolific artist, he has always been around since he started his music career in the 1960s as part of a vocal harmony group. His first group, formed in secondary school, was called The Flames, and then, in 1966, he formed The Lyrics with Albert Tomlinson and Delmar Campbell. With this group (in 1969 becoming a duo as Delmar Campbell migrated to the US) he recorded for Studio One ("A Get It", "Girls Like Dirt", and "Hear What The Old Man Say"), Randy's ("Give Thanks", "East To The Right", and a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water"), and the group's own Lyric label ("Sing Along"). When also Albert Tomlinson migrated (to Canada), Fred Locks formed the short-lived Tony & The Melancholics, before he embarked on a solo career.
Fred Locks acquired his reputation as one of Jamaica's roots heroes in 1975, when his anthemic single "Black Star Liners" was released on the Twelve Tribes-affiliated Jahmikmusik label. His debut album "Black Star Liner/True Rastaman" was released in 1976, and has remained popular with roots reggae audiences ever since. From then up till now he has released six more full length albums including "Nebuchadnezzar, King Of Babylon" aka "Revelations" aka "Love & Harmony" (1980), "Love And Only Love" (1982), "Culturally" (1995), "Never Give Up" (1998), "Missing Link" (2000) and "Glorify The Lord" (2008). All these album contained music in serious 'cultural' mode and were consistent efforts with the Phillip 'Fatis' Burrell produced "Never Give Up" set being the most memorable.
And now there's the brand new project, the 12-track album "Music Is My Calling", done in association with American producer/musician James Lord. Fred Locks once again comes up with a good collection of tunes, showcasing that his bleating voice hasn't lost its charm after all these years in music busines. Not only is his vocal style tailor-made for expressive cries of the sufferer's pain and affirmations of faith in Rastafari, but it also suits songs that deal with matters of the heart. The title track and also album opener, the beautiful "Music Is My Calling", is an autobiographical tune in which he tells stories from his life and music career including his first audition at Studio One in 1967. It's followed by "This Loving Feeling", a solid tune with reality lyrics and a real nice groove. Next comes "Cheer Up", a truly outstanding effort with Fred Locks vocally and lyrically at his very best. His romantic side is shown on the enjoyable "My Love". Also the wonderful "Come Home" deals with love, but this time it's about the end of a relationship. Here Fred Locks delivers his lyrics over an appealing riddim with nice moody horns. With "Never Give Up On Jah Love" he pays tribute to H.I.M., another highlight of this set.
The first half of the 12 tracks featured here were all worth hearing, and also the remaining six tracks provide nuff listening pleasure. "Ababajahnoy", a fiery tune done in combination with California based deejay Binghi Ghost, belongs to the standouts of this album. The next track, "Pretty Face (Dirty Ways)", carries a different mood, but in the end matches the previous song even though it deals with a complete different theme. "Fatal Attraction" is a nice love song in which Fred Locks warns the woman he loves that another guy shouldn't take her away from him. Then he returns to the roots side of things with the wonderful "Oppression (Makes A Wise Man Mad)", while the powerful sung "Lonely Life" tells us how the life of an artist can have a negative effect on his relationships. The album is rounded off in great style with the reality tune "Police Brutality", not least because of its extended dubbed out version.
With "Music Is My Calling", Fred Locks adds another solid album to his musical catalog.