Solid Gold Showcase
The Maytones
Music Life Production
January 21, 2008

Track list
  1. Let It Be Me
  2. Love Affair
  3. Let The Version Play
  4. Play De Reggae Music
  5. Enough Is Enough
  6. Enough Dub
  7. Higher Ground
  8. Higher Version
  9. Hard Time
  10. Lover Man
  11. Never Gonna Run Away
  12. One Way
  13. Be Careful
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 3
Any reggae fan who has seen the ultimate reggae movie "Rockers" will surely remember the scenes in which Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace is trying to sell records to vendors. It's this part of the movie that features a big tune called "Money Worries", which then became a mega hit for The (Mighty) Maytones who performed that song. The Maytones were a rarity among Jamaican vocal groups as they were a duo instead of the usual trio. The rural roots of lead vocalist Vern Buckley and backing singer Gladstone "Son" Grant are evident in their singing style, and are beautifully showcased on many classic tunes including "Madness", "Funny Man", "Boat To Zion" and "Africa We Want To Go", to name a few.

40 years after The Maytones started to record their first 45s -- "Loving Reggay" and "Billy "Goat" -- they have a new album out on the streets entitled "Solid Gold Showcase", which actually brings together the new and the old sounds of The Maytones. Tracks 1 to 8 of the cd form the "Showcase" part (vocals are directly followed by their dub versions), recorded in 2006-2007 in Jamaica and Canada for Music Life Production, while tracks 9 to 13 are "Solid Gold" as these are classic tunes from the late seventies.

The album kicks off with a lacklustre rendition of Everly Brothers' "Let It Be Me", which is followed by "Love Affair", a far better and more entertaining effort than the previous tune. Both tracks are underpinned by the same slow-paced 'old skool' riddim, which comes around for the third time in "Let The Version Play". The same procedure is utilized for the next three tracks. Utilizing Dennis Brown's "Promised Land" riddim, the listener is first treated to "Play De Reggae Music" -- lyrically a mediocre tune with name dropping (Dennis Brown, Bob Marley and Garnet Silk) -- before the most outstanding track of the new material, "Enough Is Enough", takes over. The dub version is the icing on the cake. Great timeless riddim with an awesome bassline! The spiritual "Higher Ground" is a solid tune and one of the highlights of this cd followed by the nice "Higher Version".

Then The Maytones take the listener back in time with tracks previously issued on albums like "Boat To Zion" (1978), "One Way" (1979) and "Keep The Fire Burning" (1980). The Charles "Duke" Reid produced "Hard Time" is a great sufferer's tune, followed by the excellent "Lover Man", which shows that The Maytones are equally at home with songs that deal with reality themes and matters of the heart. 'There's no place like home' is the main theme of the Alvin 'GG' Ranglin produced "Never Gonna Run Away" with lyrics like 'I ain't gonna leave my beautiful sunshine, I ain't gonna leave my sweet collie weed, I ain't gonna leave my country of birth, I ain't gonna leave my mamma and my dad behind'. A striking tune to hear, especially because Vern 'Maytone' Buckley moved to Canada not that long after he had recorded this song. "One Way" is another gem -- and one of our favourite Maytones' tunes -- from the past which deserves to be played over and over again. "Be Careful", which dates from a later period than the other classics, rounds off in fine style.

Not every track is a winner, but "Solid Gold Showcase" certainly has its moments. So do check it out!