Slim Smith

A Unique Technique (Original Rock Steady & Reggae Classics: 1967-1972)

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Slim Smith fans in need of new blood would do well to pick up this U.K. collection of rarities. Along with a few sides Smith cut with the Uniques ("Let Me Go Girl," "If I Could Build My World Around You"), the disc contains a bevy of solo material from 1968-1972. Smith's best work comes from this four-year stretch. In fact, both this roundup and Trojan's stellar memorial collection, Rain From the Skies, make a strong case for Smith's place atop the rocksteady and early reggae vocal pile. Bunny "Striker" Lee, Smith's longtime producer, manned many of these later solo sessions, utilizing both guitarist Lynn Taitt's band and his own Bunny Lee All-Stars (aka the Hippy Boys) to cushion his singer's falsetto-resplendent tenor. In addition to a handful of impressive Smith-penned songs, this Westside collection includes two strong Temptations covers ("Ain't Too Proud to Beg," "Everybody Needs Love") and a surprisingly effective version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Hopefully, thanks to this nice bit of audio excavation, even more of Smith's solo work will be released.

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