Various Artists

Caribbean Gospel: Book 1

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Mention the music of the Caribbean, and most people will think of reggae, calypso, or soca (in about that order). Think of gospel music from the Caribbean, and most people think of Rastafarianism. But Rastafari is actually a minority faith in the area, and more traditional forms of Christianity remain quite a bit more popular. This 15-track gospel compilation is explicitly Christian in nature, though much of the music is reggae or reggae-derived. In terms of quality, the program is a mixed bag. There are two contributions from a female vocal ensemble called Shine the Light; on the first, "I Wanna Live for Jesus," they sound out-of-tune and whiny, but on the second, "Hear O Lord," they sing beautifully over a nicely percolating reggae groove. And Owen Gray's "It Is No Secret" is marred by inexcusable production glitches. But on the more positive side, Joseph Niles contributes a couple of very nice old-school gospel numbers, as does dancehall legend Sanchez with his straight-ahead rendition of "Amazing Grace." There are two excellent contributions from the great Carlene Davis, as well: "One Day at a Time" and the exquisite "Give All to Jesus." Overall, this is a worthwhile album, but not necessarily an essential one.

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