Play Me Sweet And Nice
Marcia Griffiths
Trojan Records
November 25, 2006

Track list
  1. First Time I Saw Your Face
  2. Play Me
  3. There's No Me Without You
  4. I Just Don't Want To Be Lonely
  5. Gypsy Man
  6. Sweet Bitter Love
  7. Here I Am Baby (Come And Take Me)
  8. Everything I Own
  9. Green Grasshopper
  10. Children At Play
  11. Play Me (Part 2) feat. Lloyd Charmers
  12. Mark My Word
  13. First Cut Is The Deepest
  14. Work And Slave
  15. Working To The Top
  16. Don't Let Me Down
  17. Band Of Gold
  18. Put A Little Love In Your Heart
  19. I See You My Love
  20. It's Too Late
  21. Baby If You Don't Love Me
  22. Love Walked In
  23. When Will I See You Again
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 2
"I grew up in a very humble Christian family....love was all we had.....that togetherness, that family bond....I thought about it, and I believe that it was the honesty and sincerity and the innocence that all this music was done with. It's very pure. We were all so innocent. We just sung our hearts out ( Marcia Griffiths .)"

In this time when dour, humourless, often deeply clichéd and conservative roots music is proving very popular, albeit in an underground fashion, it is typically the done thing to dismiss records like this Marcia Griffiths' one as bland, to put them down -- because they aren't "heavy."

Big mistake -- this reviewer would far rather have this album than the vast majority of deeply, deeply unoriginal music that passes itself off as "heavyweight" sound system roots music today: It has far more soul, more substance, and sense of emotion.

This album is, it's true, too formulaic in places -- but the peak moments echo the work of the best funk, soul and jazz singers of the 20th century -- it evokes the memory of Etta James, Betty Carter, Billy Holiday, and also reminds the listener of far more low key, yet great under rated talents like Sonya Spence, who released the unappreciated beauty of "In the Dark."

So, if you love Etta James's "I'd Rather Go Blind", Betty Carter's monumental earthy spirituality in "Open the Door", Marlena Shaw's "Woman of the Ghetto" (the funk version, not the reggae one) then this album should appeal to you.

The best track here is probably the ethereal heights of "First Time I Saw Your Face" -- If you wrote this one off as bland AOR, think again -- This tune has the emotion and depth of the very best Bim Sherman music. Also outstanding is the version of "First Cut Is The Deepest" -- please note this is not the Studio One cut, but a brisk paced Skin Flesh and Bones Rockers cut.

This album will also appeal to buyers of Sonia Pottinger's High Note label -- a lot of it is similar in style and sound to the High Note compilation album Heartbeat released about 10 years ago. It is good too, to hear the musicians clearly relishing and enjoying the chance to play hard roots Rockers rhythms -- but with a heavy funk and jazz influence, and with a sense of textured sophistication.