Winston Jarrett & the Righteous Flames

Jonestown

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There are lots of obscure reggae singers, and most of them are obscure with good reason. But it's hard to understand why Winston Jarrett hasn't gotten more recognition. Despite a powerful singing voice, a tuneful writing style and a string of fine albums, his name recognition is limited to serious reggae fans. Jarrett's street cred in Jamaica seems pretty solid, though, given the all-star cast of musicians that contributed to this album: Earl "Chinna" Smith and Dwight Pinkney on guitar, Clinton Fearon on bass, Santa Davis on drums, a horn section consisting of Dean Fraser and Bobby Ellis -the credits read like an old-school reggae reunion. And it turns out that Jarrett is also a skilled producer; the sound on this self-produced album is sharp, well-balanced and rich. A couple of tracks flirt with excessive slickness ("Unity," "Run to the Rock"), but for the most part the richly burnished sound serves the songs well: sufferer's anthems like "Knotty Got to Find a Way" and the archetypal "Babylon Broke Dung Me House" bounce and shimmer with a melodic glee that is charmingly at odds with their dour lyrics. Overall, this is a great album from a criminally underrated reggae talent.