VP Records-Groove Attack
CD / LP
September 14, 2007
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 3/4|
Although dancehall deejays must be
lyrically tough, unleashing rapid-fire guns in the ghetto rhymes and
inflated sexual boastings, dancehall singers can attain great popularity
sensitively cooing about a new found love, melodically lamenting a love
gone wrong and emotionally conveying other oh-so tender concerns. The
sensual vocals of Wayne Wonder have made
him a consistent hit maker since the late 80s. In 2002, Wayne earned the
first number 1 hit of his career pledging a lifetime of devotion on the
sweetly romantic hit "No Letting Go" over Steve 'Lenky' Marsden's then
Born Von Wayne Charles in Buff Bay, Portland, Wayne's initial singing inspiration came from attending Sunday school, where singing was compulsory, and from his mother who sang in church. As a child Wayne and his family moved all over eastern Kingston, living in areas such as Dunkirk, Franklin Town and Rae Town, home of the weekly Sunday night Reggae/R&B oldies street dance. The exposure to vintage 45s at these dances would provide Wayne with a richer, more soulful vocal approach to a reggae rhythm track than many of his contemporaries. It was at secondary school where Waynes thoughtfulness and philosophical nature led to the acquisition of the nickname Wonder; young Wayne sang at school, at home, at church and for his friends and wherever he sang, he was encouraged to pursue his craft professionally. The first producer Wayne recorded for was the legendary creator of dub, the late King Tubby. Wayne voiced three original songs for Tubby, but the one that caught the publics attention was his cover version of British heartthrob Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up". In 1988, Wayne was devastated by the death of Tubby who was among the most significant influences in his early career. Wayne then linked up with producer Lloyd Dennis voicing the hit "It's Over Now" on the popular 'Cover Me'-riddim (titled after the hit by Ninja Man and Tinga Stewart) for Dennis' Pickout label. Wayne also recorded his debut album "No More Chance" on the Pickout label. "No More Chance" contained seven original tracks and several obligatory cover versions, reflecting Jamaican producers' preference for recording singers doing American R&B hits.
Around 1989, Wayne began collaborating with his childhood friend Dave Kelly. At the time, Kelly was an engineer for Donovan Germain's Penthouse Records, the label synonymous with dancehall reggae hits of the late 80s/early 90s. Together Wayne and Dave created a steady stream of successful Penthouse tunes including "I'm Only Human", "Baby You and I" and "Saddest Day" (which Wayne re-recorded in combination with Foxy Brown on her 2001 Def Jam Records Broken Silence CD), probably still his biggest tune on Jamaica. Wayne became well known for his 1991 cover version of the late Jamaican singer Delroy Wilson's "I Dont Know Why" re-titled "Movie Star". The same song in combination with Buju Banton (whom Wayne brought to Penthouse Records) "Bona Fide Love" proved to be a huge success as well, remaining a heavily requested tune even today. Wayne achieved several hits with Penthouse covering the work of American artists including Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car", PM Dawn's "Die Without You" and En Vogues "Hold On", but in 1993 he pledged he would only record original material. From that time, Wayne Wonder hasn't covered a song, everything has been all original music, while Wayne has co-written hits for other artists including Buju Banton's "Deportees" and "Murderer". Wayne and Dave Kelly continued their successful musical relationship when Kelly founded his own Madhouse and Xtra Large labels. Wayne recorded many hits for Madhouse spanning the mid to late 90s, including "Joyride", "Bashment Gal" and "Keep Them Coming". Wayne introduced an extra dimension with "Let Your Conscience Set You Free" recorded in combination with his alter ego, deejay Surprize. Surprize was also featured on several tracks of Wayne's 2001 release "Schizophrenic" as was Wayne's underground group Entourage, featuring his deejay protégé Show Ki-Ru. Wayne launched his own record label Singso in 2000 and has released singles by several artists including Baby Cham, Alley Cat, Frankie Sly, and Mr. Easy.
Following the almost Gregorian chant "Intro" is the first official single of the album "Again", a fine masterpiece cut over producer Christopher 'Longman' Birch' 'Ghetto Blues'-riddim, followed by the very nice Tony Kelly produced "Gonna Love You" and the absolutely masterful "Original Share My Love" which reminds me of Sanchez' heyday approach of these hybrid lovers/dancehall riddims, delivering the lovers lyrics completely on top of the wonderful riddim. "For My Love" shows that Wayne Wonder has not without reason been covering US R&B hits earlier in his career, as his voice and style certainly are not just only very similar to American singers, but he even is able to beat them on their own territory, which this combination with US female hip hop artist Trina definitely proves, before the fine "Between The Sheets" and his superb take (in combination with his DJing alter ego Surprize) on Donovan 'Vendetta' Bennett's 'Seasons' "I Still Believe" that you love me baby, still one of the greatest efforts over this brilliant riddim. "Hotter Than Fire" is led off by Wayne Wonder's impression of TAFKAP a.k.a. Prince, an extremely nice song over Jah Snowcone's wonderful (and) 'Cheerful'-riddim and then his protégé Show Ki-Ru joins Wayne for the laidback "Exposed". "The Way You Love Me" is another great lovesong followed by the even more impressive ballad "Take It Easy" over Stingray's 'All Star'-riddim and the very strong "Love And Affection" over Wayne 'Purple Skunk' Morris' riddim built round a Spanish acoustic guitar, 'Istanbul'. The balladish "Apart" is a fine tune, but Wayne Wonder really shines on the infectious "God Bless You Baby" and the magnificent Black Chiney produced "L.O.V.E." over their beautifully smooth 'Dr. Bird'-riddim. The last tune on this album is one of the least impressive, although I do like its raunchy lyrics and Sean Paul protégé Mr. Chicken's deejayed contribution to this combination, but Wayne Wonder's own effort stays behind that on all other tunes on this album. Overall however this is a stronger album in my opinion than "No Holding Back" which was Wayne Wonder's most successful (and probably strongest as well) album to date.