08 - 10 - 2001
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4||Backing : 4||Production : 4||Sound quality : 4/5||Sleeve : 3|
A distinguished vocalist of the hard-working, soulful school, Leroy Smart - the self-styled "Don' - was orphaned at the age of two and brought up in Kingston's Alpha Catholic Boys School and Home - the first home for many of Jamaica"s musical talents. His reputation precedes him as one of Jamaica's most outrageous and colourful characters, and he is held in high esteem by the reggae fraternity, to the point where his name is often discussed not only with reverence but in awe. Consquently, the stories of his struggles in life have assumed far greater importance over the years than his manifest vocal talents. He began recording in the early 70s and made the usual rounds of Kingston producers, first achieving success with Jimmy Radway/Rodway and then with Bunny Lee, Gussie Clarke and Joseph "Joe Joe" Hookim and many others. His stage shows were truly outrageous and were famed as much for their acrobatic displays as his vocal pyrotechnics, while his agonized, mannered singing defied categorization. He achieved classic status on a number of records throughout the 70s, including "Pride And Ambition", "Ballistic Affair", "God Helps The Man" and "Mr Smart"/"Happiness Is My Desire". He continued to record in the 80s and on into the 90s too, hitting again with "She Just A Draw Card" and "I Am The Don". Leroy continues to tour regularly and is still making successful, albeit less frequent, records. In 1999, Sly and Robbie cut a new version of 'Ballistic Affair' for their 'Strip To The Bone' album, a well deserved tribute to the Don's talent.|
On this Tabou1 cd you'll find some 20 tracks he recorded in the early eighties for Beswick Philips & Clive Jarret's Dynamite Records, all of them backed at Channel One by the Riddim Twins, Sly & Robbie. The one drop, slowed tempo is characteristic of the style of those days. Most of the tracks have stood the test of time very well, with outstanding tunes being Ready For Love, Be My Side, Reggae Music and the title track Private Message. Most of the songs found here use some of reggae most enduring riddims such as 'Undying Love', 'Pretty Looks' and 'Sweet Talking'. Apart from some weaker tunes, most of the tracks here are characteristic Leroy Smart tunes, which will please any reggae fan.