Errol Dunkley

OK Fred: The Best of Errol Dunkley

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From the earnest 14-year-old kid singing ska in the mid-'60s to the heavy roots vibe of his early-'70s recordings, OK Fred is the first collection to give a picture of just how much ground Errol Dunkley covered in the first two decades of his career. His ska recordings date back to 1963 with "My Queen" and 1966's "Love Me Forever," both of which are charming in a precocious way, but only hint at the booming vibrato-laden voice that Dunkley would later grow into. His rocksteady cuts like "Once More" and "I'll Take You in My Arms" are where he begins to come into his own, infusing a melancholy lilt into otherwise standard love songs. Roots for Dunkley was all about slow churning riddims and not so much the politics that accompanied them. His deepest cuts here, "Movie Star," "(Oowee) Baby I Love You," and "A Little Way Different," are from his first album, Introducing Errol Dunkley (later reissued as Darling Ooh). It was a 1979 rocksteady cover of a John Holt song though, "O.K. Fred," that would be his biggest hit, and it fittingly leads off the collection that shares its name.

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