Sweet Jamaica
Icho Candy
Superone Records
CD / Digital Release
April 6, 2015

Track list
  1. The West Is The Best
  2. Evil Heart (Culp)
  3. Welcome feat. Denise Simmons
  4. Sweet Jamaica
  5. Run Come A Me
  6. I'm In The Mood
  7. Everybody Have Feelings
  8. Armagidion War
  9. Samson
  10. Understanding
  11. Suzy Come Back To Me feat. Denise Simmons
  12. Good Memories
  13. Bloody Streets
  14. I Am Moving
  15. I Remember
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4 Backing : 3/4 Production : 3/4 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 4
One of the things that makes Reggae so fascinating are artists that get more or less cult status because of one crucial classic tune and then seemingly disappear or, although they try, don't encounter the same kind of success with their following releases. Winston Evans, better known as Icho Candy, is one of those artists. As so many Jamaican artists back when, Icho Candy started singing with sound systems such as the one run by producer Jack Ruby. The latter produced Icho Candy's debut single, "Little Children No Cry", but it was not a success. Also his second single "Bandulu", produced by Joe Gibbs, wasn't successful. And then he recorded his signature tune, the haunting "Captain Selassie I", first on the "Heavenless" riddim (originally released on the Jwyanza label) and then on the "Shank I Sheck" riddim, which gave him a breakthrough and proved to be his biggest hit. This Delroy Standbury produced tune, which was released on Joe Gibbs' imprint, has become immensely popular since its release in 1983 and remains sought-after in its 45rpm single format.

Icho Candy recorded three albums: "Glory To The King", issued on Jah Shaka's King Of The Zulu Tribe label in 1993, the almost impossible to find "Rise Up" on Delroy Witters' Creation label (in 2013 reissued as digital release and retitled "Warn Dem") and an unreleased album for the late Finnish producer Tero Kaski. And now a period of obscurity has been unexpectedly broken with the release of a 15-track album called "Sweet Jamaica". Whether this is a brand new collection is doubtful, because the riddims voiced by Icho Candy are seemingly coming from different eras as is more or less obvious when checking the list of musicians on the back sleeve. There you'll find names like Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace (drums), Michael "Myrie" Taylor (bass, keyboards & computer programming), Augustus Pablo (melodica & keyboards), Earl "Chinna" Smith (lead guitar) and Frazal Prendergast (rhythm guitar).

The album opener "The West Is The Best", a solid ganja tune, comes across a 1980's sounding riddim, while "Evil Heart (Culp)" is underpinned by a funky groovin' riddim from the 1990's. A more contemporary feel has the lovers tune "Welcome", done in collaboration with sweet-voiced Denise Simmons. Riddimwise it's a bit of a mixed bag, which actually goes for the entire album. However, these first three tracks once again show that Icho Candy's voice, which is mostly high and hypnotic, never fails to please the listener. The beautiful lovers song "Run Come A Me" is backed by a familiar riddim from Augustus Pablo, who plays the melodica on this one. And the lovers vibes keep on flowing with the matching "I'm In The Mood". Both "Armagidion War" and "Samson" are solid roots 'n culture tunes, followed by "Understanding", a heartfelt call for unity on Larry Marshall's classic "Throw Me Corn" riddim. The second collaboration with Denise Simmons, "Suzy Come Back To Me", is a real nice effort, followed by the mediocre "Good Memories", which can be qualified as Big People's Music. Luckily Icho Candy returns to form with "Bloody Streets" and "I Am Moving". The album is rounded off with "I Remember", a rendition of Winston Groovy's 1969 song "Leaving Me Standing".

Although not every tune included on this album is a winner, there's more than enough to enjoy!