Bruce Ruffin

Mad About You: The Anthology

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Bruce Ruffin's solo career wasn't that of a typical Jamaican singer in the late '60s and early '70s. He began singing rocksteady with the Techniques and dipped his toes briefly in the new sound of reggae, but after that his path is one that few others followed, one of syrupy conservative pop. Almost all of Ruffin's solo material is gathered here on Mad About You, titled after the song that shaped the singer's legacy of reggae-pop. The title cut had a novelty sheen, with chipmunk backing vocals and sappy strings, and was an embarrassment to Ruffin -- but its success convinced him and his producers at the time, Tony Cousins and Bruce White, to run with it. That summery material with breezy melodies and light brass and string arrangements is what the singer is best known for, and in the pantheon of pop-soul and reggae-pop Ruffin falls somewhere between R.B. Greaves and Johnny Nash. There are some revelatory moments tucked in with those examples of Ruffin at his most commercial, though, including tough live versions of José Feliciano's "Rain" and a great original, "Bitterness of Life," which ends with the singer shouting "Yeah! Reggae power!!" There is also a disarming number of unreleased demos, some of which rise above the somewhat dated sound of the released tunes, especially the urgent Bill Withers soul of the Ruffin-penned "Two Sides to Every Story." The first disc, which includes Ruffin's early rocksteady and reggae sides recorded with producers Leslie Kong, Herman Chin-Loy, and Lloyd Charmers, is more about how Ruffin ended up a slick pop artist, and its variety makes it the more interesting of the two. The transformation is visible in easy steps from the rough Kong sessions that included covers of Paul Simon's "Cecilia" and the Five Stairsteps "O-o-h Child" to the smooth Chin-Loy-produced hit "Rain" and finally the glossy sheen of "Mad About You" and the other Cousins and White productions. It's a mixed bag, but there are enough gems, both in the rough and cut to perfection, to make it worthwhile.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:41 SpotifyAmazon
2
2:09 SpotifyAmazon
3
2:11 SpotifyAmazon
4 2:54 SpotifyAmazon
5 2:11 SpotifyAmazon
6
2:41 SpotifyAmazon
7 2:49 SpotifyAmazon
8 3:22 SpotifyAmazon
9 2:19 SpotifyAmazon
10
2:37 SpotifyAmazon
11 2:50 SpotifyAmazon
12 2:23 SpotifyAmazon
13 2:12 SpotifyAmazon
14 2:22 SpotifyAmazon
15 2:56 SpotifyAmazon
16 2:49 Spotify
17 2:24 SpotifyAmazon
18 2:23 SpotifyAmazon
19 3:17 SpotifyAmazon
20 2:46 SpotifyAmazon
21 3:02 SpotifyAmazon
22 3:29 SpotifyAmazon
23 2:18 SpotifyAmazon
24 3:28 SpotifyAmazon
25 2:58 SpotifyAmazon
26 2:24 SpotifyAmazon
27 2:33 SpotifyAmazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:36 SpotifyAmazon
2 2:15 SpotifyAmazon
3 3:13 SpotifyAmazon
4 3:19 SpotifyAmazon
5 3:18 SpotifyAmazon
6 2:55 SpotifyAmazon
7 3:11 SpotifyAmazon
8 3:22 SpotifyAmazon
9 2:58 SpotifyAmazon
10 3:07 SpotifyAmazon
11 3:24
12 2:55 Amazon
13 2:33
14 2:30
15 3:16 SpotifyAmazon
16 2:52
17 2:17
18 2:42 Amazon
19 3:27 Amazon
20 3:41
21 2:32 Amazon
22 2:58 Amazon
23 4:37 Amazon
24 2:09 Amazon
25 3:11 Amazon
26 2:45 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick