12 Star General - 9 Select Cuts From The Vaults Of 12 Star Records 1975-1980
Keeling Beckford
Dublife Muzik
Digital Release
May 5, 2016

Track list
  1. That Girl
  2. Big Wheel
  3. Last Night In Heaven
  4. I Want To Know
  5. Caught Up
  6. Everyday A Little Sweeter
  7. Magic Woman
  8. Wash
  9. Follow Fashion
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Vocals : 4 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 4
Drop the name Keeling Beckford and most likely the mature reggae fan will instantly remember him as the man who produced and distributed numerous reggae and dancehall videos with his Brooklyn-based Keeling Records in the '80s and '90s rather than think of him as a veteran reggae singer. Still the man, a nephew of Jamaica's late great singer, songwriter, musician and producer Theophilus 'Easy Snapping' Beckford, has recorded quite a few singles in the '70s and '80s.

An aspiring singer/songwriter in his boyhood days, then 13-year-old Keeling Beckford, who was born in Kingston and raised in Islington, St Mary, topped the Jamaican charts in 1968 with the very catchy hit song called "Combination". Ironically, he was turned down by the likes of Desmond Dekker and Lee 'Scratch' Perry at auditions and it was his persistent nature that led Perry to eventually give him the opportunity to record "Combination". Several recordings followed and although not as prominent as "Combination", Keeling Beckford has a pretty decent catalog which also includes several unreleased recordings from the early years.

Almost all of the tracks that comprise this album are previously unreleased. Recorded between 1975 and 1980, the 9 select cuts were produced by Keeling Beckford himself and feature riddims played by the Roots Radics, The Revolutionaries and members of Bob Marley's Wailers band from the mid-'70s era. The songs were recorded and mixed by Sylvan Morris at the legendary Harry J and Channel One studios in Kingston. Jamaica.

"That Girl" from 1982 came out on 10" vinyl single and was paired with Nicodemus' "Trotting" on the same riddim. On the label of that single released by 12 Star Records, "That Girl" - an enjoyable lovers tune - has been credited to Keeling Beckford, Maurice Wellington aka Blacka Morwell and Phil Pratt. Also the great late '70s Rockers tune "Big Wheel", a rendition of Delano Stewart's "Spinning Wheel", came out on vinyl, this time on a 12" from Prince Nando Records (US) and Vista Sounds (UK) -- on the B side it had Keeling Beckford's "Oh Moses" over the Morwell's "Kingston 12 Tuffy" riddim. Moments of romance are brought in with "Last Night In Heaven" and "I Want To Know", a rendition of Glen Campbell's "The Last Thing On My Mind" from 1972. Both are nice tunes to hear, but there's nothing really special about them. This more or less also goes for "Caught Up", which is underpinned by a good riddim track but lacks lyrics. Talking 'bout a riddim... "Everyday A Little Sweeter" comes across a killer riddim with a wicked bass line (Errol 'Flabba' Holt)... early '80s dancehall. Also "Magic Woman", Keeling Beckford's reggae version of Santana's "Black Magic Woman", is worth hearing for the bass line alone. The album is rounded off with two big tunes. First there's the awesome "Wash", which is followed by the matching "Follow Fashion".

A few tunes are real winners and thus make this album worthwhile adding to any vintage collection.