Linval Thompson

Baby Father

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The follow-up to Linval Thompson's classic 1982 album, Look How Me Sexy, Baby Father arrived the following year, and was equally masterful. Both sets were self-produced at Channel One studio, with Anthony Hamilton at the mixing board, and the Roots Radics at their finest. However, the latter album also boasted saxophonist Dean Fraser and trombonist Ronald "Nambo" Robinson, and their inclusion in the line-up seems to have pushed Thompson to even greater emotional heights.

In general, the singer had a gentle vocal style, although he imbued it with absolute conviction, leaving no doubt that when he cried "really and truly" -- his dancehall catch phrase at the time, he absolutely meant every word he was singing.

This was as true on Thompson's romantic numbers as on his cultural ones. Baby Father was stuffed with gorgeous love and lovelorn numbers, and each one was a stunner. The disappointment that fills "She Gone," the emotional power of "Yes I'm Coming," the beauty of "Love Me Forever," all are fabulous and enhanced by the Radics' own melody-strewn performances across a stream of resurrected musical gems, which keyboardist Wycliffe "Steely" Johnson infuses with a pure Studio One sound.

The cultural numbers are just as strong, and songs like "Run Down Vanity" and "Poor Man" are classics, but even more potent were "Shouldn't Lift Your Hand," and the title track, which tackles domestic violence and addresses irresponsible young men respectively.

To this day, Thompson's reputation as a producer far outweighs the respect he garnered as a singer. This masterpiece again proves those comparison are unfair, and his dramatic dancehall productions here, of especial note "Tell Me the Right Time," are equaled by his excellent, intelligent lyrics and forthright performances throughout this set.