Everlasting (Deluxe Edition)
Jean McLean
Sugar Shack Records
October 20, 2014

Track list
  1. Meant For U
  2. Ancestors
  3. Me On My Own
  4. Reggaebaby
  5. Waiting In Vain
  6. Love Me Baby
  7. Higher
  8. Never Gonna
  9. So Close
  10. Things In Life
  11. Meant 4 Dub
  12. Dubbing The Ancestors
  13. Me On My Own Dub
  14. Dubbybaby
  15. Waiting In Vain (Instrumental)
  16. Higher Dub
  17. Never Gonna Dub
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Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
At the beginning of 2005 we received Jean McLean's self-produced and independently released 18-track album "I'm A Reggae Baby". Our overall opinion of that album: "Jean McLean has the voice and the talent, if only she could get the opportunity to show her abilities on a well-produced set on which she is backed by experienced musicians." Almost 10 years later it finally happened as Bristol's Sugar Shack Records, the sister imprint of Bristol Archive Records and Reggae Archive Records, has unleashed the multi-talented artist's "Everlasting" set.

About three decades ago Jean McLean's vocals and musicianship were a highlight of Sceptre's album "Essence Of Redemption Ina A Dif'rent Styley". Poorly pressed, in very small numbers and with limited distribution, the album became a much sought after collector's item by those who were aware of the quality of the music featured on that classic UK reggae set. Although Sceptre folded in 1987, Jean McLean has never given up music and has continued to hone both her vocal and song writing skills. And now there's the brand new "Everlasting" album (more or less a 'remixed version' of her 2012 released album of the same name), the result of Jean McLean working and recording with Ecks Production's Paul Horton. The latter has Grammy nominations under his belt for previous work with Steel Pulse and Pato Banton, and is one of the UK's best when it comes to engineering and producing reggae.

"Everlasting" contains ten vocal cuts; eight original compositions written by Jean McLean herself plus two well-done renditions of Bob Marley's "Waiting In Vain" and Dennis Brown's "Things In Life". The album kicks off with an up-tempo Lovers Rock piece entitled "Meant 4 U". This very entertaining track is followed by the outstanding roots tune "Ancestors", a remake of a song from the Sceptre catalogue that is featured on the reissued vinyl LP "Black Symbol Present Handsworth Explosion Vol. One". Also "Me On My Own" is a contemporary version of a Sceptre song, a beautiful tune with a jazzy feel and great horns. In all a great start of an album that then continues to treat the listener to some fine catchy songs. In particular "Higher", "Never Gonna" and "So Close", songs that deal with the romantic side of life, make a good impression and are a real joy to listen to. As a bonus, six of the (riddim) tracks are given a mostly subtle dub treatment, with the cool & deadly "Dubbing The Ancestors" being the standout. Also "Me On My Own Dub" is a pleasure to hear and worth playing over and over again. Furthermore there's an "Instrumental" version of "Waiting In Vain" included as well.

Birmingham's Jean McLean has delivered an album that does justice to her skills and talent.