Pat Kelly

Butterflies

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Pat Kelly was heavily influenced by Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions, as were the similar Jamaican singers Slim Smith and Cornel Campbell (all three were members at one time or another of the Uniques/Techniques vocal aggregation), and his recorded work is peppered with Mayfield covers, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, since he nearly always did them well, bringing something uniquely Jamaican to the table. As this collection of rocksteady tracks recorded between 1967 and 1982 shows, though, Kelly was perfectly capable of writing his own material, and his original song "No Love at All" (included here) is as yearning and majestic as anything he ever tracked. Still, it is Kelly's choice of covers that defines him, and on Butterflies are versions of three Mayfield songs, all of them delightful ("Little Boy Blue," "You Don't Care," "I'm So Proud"), Sam Cooke's "Troubled Mind," a haunting take on James Carr's "Dark End of the Street," and a beautiful interpretation of the Temptations' "I Wish It Would Rain." Kelly's restructuring of John Loudemilk's "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" (here called "If It Don't Work Out") turns it into an infectious rocksteady classic. Unlike Campbell, Kelly never attempted to do heavier militant material when the Jamaican musical climate changed to more rasta-oriented themes, and his critical reputation has probably suffered some because of it, but his clear, falsetto vocals and his devotion to classic love songs give his album collections an endearing sweetness. Trojan's similar anthology, Soulful Love, has a more complete feel than this one, but Butterflies shares several of the same tracks, and does an effective job of hitting the high points.

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