Jackie Opel

Cry Me a River

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Jackie Opel was a superstar in his native Barbados, and an architect of early ska in Jamaica, both as a singer and as a bass player, but his recorded legacy has been poorly served in the CD era. Opel (his real name was Dalton Bishop) was a versatile singer, with a rumored six-octave vocal range, and although his ska sides like the ribald "Push Wood" (sometimes listed as "Sit Down Servant") and "Old Rockin' Chair" are probably his best known, he was really closer to the American soul and gospel side of things, as this collection of some of his Studio One recordings makes clear. Only "My Sweet Love" and "Say Say Business" qualify here as ska. The balance of the album, including the majestic title track, "Cry Me a River," and the powerful, haunting "Shelter the Storm," is really Opel's attempt at singing Southern soul, and this surely has to be one of the least Jamaican albums ever released by Studio One. But don't let that scare you. Opel may not have born in Memphis, but he knows what he's doing, and Cry Me a River is a wonderful set of gospel-fueled soul, with just the slightest dusting of Kingston rhythm.

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