As a music nerd, it’s easy to overuse superlatives when talking and writing about music. There’s so much good music out there. This one however is easily one of the best Lp’s I’ve ever heard, regardless of genres. If I had to take one album only with me to a deserted island this would be the one. The first time I heard it I was probably around 15 or 16 years old and I had just started listening to “Reggae”. A Jamaican friend (who hates “Reggae”) had borrowed some vinyls for me from his dad and among them was this album.
It was not love at first sight (or sound), I thought it was okay. At that time I was more of a “Roots” fan and this is as “Lovers rock” and smooth as “Reggae” ever gets. “Jackie Edwards” has probably done more “Soul” and “Easy listening” music than “Reggae”. Throughout the years I kept listening to it and I slowly started liking it more and more. My tape dub of it was getting worn and “Trojan” refused to re-release it on Cd. Getting back into vinyl I started searching for it and bought one “Jackie Edward” after another before I found this; therefore, I was willing to pay good money for it.
On to the review. First up is “I Do Love You”, a sensitive ballad with a strong piano foundation. It’s an excellent start to this album. Jackie’s voice is as strong as ever and fits the tune perfectly. Those of you who want uncompromising Roots with a strong backbeat, experimental instrumentals with quirky sounds, echoes and stripped down dub will be disappointed. It has a commercial, early seventies “Reggae” vibe. I don’t use the word “commercial” in an insulting kind of way. Yes, this album was made for the charts and (most likely) intimate moments with your loved one. That does not make it any less powerful.
Next song is “Don’t Stop” which is similar to the first song. Skip a few tracks and we get to “Your Eyes Are Dreaming”. Still very much dominated by a piano, but more upbeat than the first few slower songs. The tempo gets faster with the sixth and last song on side A, “Julie On My Mind”, which has a “full” sound with flutes and violins among the instruments. It’s not a bad song, but probably my least favorite on here.
I’m a firm believer in variety on an album. You can’t have songs of only one kind. There has to be some upbeat ones, a few slower and if it’s a “Roots” you need a few love songs and vice versa. The first song on side B is “On the Run (With a Gun)” which not too surprisingly is a “rudebwoy” tune. Smooth and relaxed all the same, but lyrically different and more up-tempo than the other songs. After this it’s back to the love songs with “A Little Story” and “Do What You Wanna Do” which musically remains among the more upbeat tunes. We’re treated to another “rudebwoy” tune with “Johnny Gunman”, a very catchy tune with a great chorus and among my favorites on here. Another favorite is “Miss Black & Beautiful” which is a sensitive ballad about a woman very dear to Jackie Edwards’ heart. I can’t say enough positive things about it.
In all this is an amazing album and “Jackie Edwards’ “ best. He walks the fine line between commercial and genuine, but manages to produce one of the best fusions of “Reggae”, “Soul” and “Pop” I’ve ever heard. As mentioned, this is not for the “Roots” crowd as it’s very polished, but if you like the more commercial examples of early 70’s “Reggae” this is a gem. If you enjoyed Trojans’ successful “Tighten Up” series this is right up your alley.