Ken Boothe

Black Gold and Green

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The best records in the world are ones that entertain the listener both recreationally and intellectually. Black Gold and Green is simmering with both these qualities. It was the first of three albums Boothe would record with producer Lloyd Charmers and, simply put, it takes his Memphis-via-Kingston aesthetic to the next level. Some of the best soul singing of his brilliant career can be heard here on numbers such as "Out of Love," "Missing You," and the gritty ballad "Second Chance." By the early '70s, Boothe had developed the gravelly tone he is so often associated with, and while his early efforts with Coxsone Dodd are every bit as influenced by American R&B, on Black Gold and Green listeners get a taste of these tendencies in a much darker setting. Even the love songs are tinged with a brooding melancholy not heard in his discography until this point. This is due in large part to some proto-roots musical accompaniment -- e.g., a greater emphasis on the two and four beats -- and the (rather obvious) nod to African repatriation. Instead of being another Jamaican Otis Redding record, Black Gold and Green includes some serious social-political material, and these heavy tones permeate every note of the date. It also includes his famous cover of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine." Later in 1973, Boothe would release the follow-up, Let's Get It On, an album of equal quality, known for including his brooding take on Syl Johnson's "Is it Because I'm Black." Both dates are highly recommended, but start here first.

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