The Blues Busters

Behold: The Anthology

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In the early '60s, the Blues Busters were a Jamaican vocal duo who could switch from ska to gospel-ized R&B effortlessly. They had few peers in Jamaica, and it wasn't until the middle of the decade and the rise of Sam & Dave that a comparable group could be found in the States. Behold is a great collection that swings between soul and ska with the same ease as the Blues Busters themselves. The title track is a midtempo ballad, a particularly strong style for the Busters, with harmony vocals that make similar tunes recorded by the Drifters a decade earlier seem burdened by clutter. Early R&B numbers like 1961's "Warning You" have a charming excitement, but the real magic of Behold can be heard on "I Won't Let You Go" and "Soon You'll Be Gone," both from 1965, where the Busters croon sweet street-corner soul over driving ska rhythms. It's a sound that anticipates the rocksteady boom that would sweep Jamaica and make way for reggae, but ironically, the Blues Busters would miss out on most of the rocksteady era, instead concentrating on stateside success as soul singers. Rocksteady's loss was soul music's gain as the duo went on to record material that falls somewhere between Chicago soul sophistication -- covers of the Impressions' "I've Been Trying," Sam Cooke's "That's Heaven to Me" -- and Southern soul grit like the 1967 Muscle Shoals session where they recorded the Rick Hall/Spooner Oldham-penned "Don't Lose Your Good Thing" and Dan Penn's "I Can't Stop." While success in the U.S. eluded them, the pair headed back to Jamaica where they returned to the charts in 1971 with "Each One Teach One," an early reggae tune reminiscent of Jimmy Cliff's work from the same time. For anyone interested in ska or '60s soul, Behold comes very recommended, but for anyone interested in both it's close to essential.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:40
2 2:35
3 2:45
4 2:39
5 2:30
6 2:30
7 2:49
8 2:15
9 2:34
10 1:50
11 2:49
12 2:23
13 2:58
14 1:58
15 2:35
16 2:44
17 2:25
20 2:46
22 3:03
23 2:45
24 3:16
25 2:47
26 2:40
blue highlight denotes track pick