Jackie Mittoo

Jackie Mittoo in London

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Though the title might be taken to mean otherwise, this is not a live album, but a collection of early Mittoo solo sides, all of them instrumental. Even by reggae albums' oft-shoddy standards, the level of crudeness on the packaging is laughable, even insulting: the songs are listed totally out of order, "Norwegian Wood" isn't even on the sleeve at all, 12 tracks are listed although 14 play, no songwriting credits are given, and the artist's name is misspelled "Jackie Mitto" on the back cover. But guess what? It doesn't really matter, because it's still mighty fun rocksteady, paced by the uniquely effervescent tone of Mittoo's organ, though his style is heavily influenced by Booker T. Jones of Booker T. & the MG's. Too, the repertoire is about half covers of contemporary pop/rock and soul hits from outside of Jamaica, including such unlikely suspects as not just "Norwegian Wood," but also "Winchester Cathedral," the Bee Gees' "Massachusetts," "Whiter Shade of Pale," and "Something Stupid" (in a more R&B vein, there's also a good version of the Bar-Kays' "Soul Finger"). No matter whether this was recorded "in London" or not -- the humid sound of Jamaica just oozes out of these grooves, and it's a perfect complement to a hot and heavy night, in both the meteorological and emotional meanings of that description.

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