Jackie Edwards

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Escape Review

by Jo-Ann Greene

The Jamaican born Jackie Edwards was one of Chris Blackwell's earliest discoveries, and cut his first record for the future Island label head in 1959. Edwards relocated to the U.K. in 1962, and built his career from there, both as a singer and composer. By 1972, Island had shifted its focus from Jamaican music to the rock world, and Edwards now returned home. There he linked with producer Bunny Lee, then riding his flying cymbals sound to chart supremacy. Although Lee launched numerous DJ singles into the charts and set the roots world alight with superb cultural numbers, he also worked with veteran singing stars to much effect. Escape features ten of these greats, all produced by Lee and backed by his studio band the Aggrovators. A number of the songs are re-recordings of earlier singles initially cut for Blackwell, including a superb new take on "Garden of Eden" and a lush "Look at Me Julie" (aka "Julie on My Mind," which was also a hit for Prince Buster back in 1968). Edwards was the prince of romance, and his smoothly passionate vocals had long made him a lovers favorite. Lee and the Aggrovators took care with the arrangements, and the music reflects the songs' moods, encompassing lush orchestral numbers brimming with strings, to bubbly soft reggae pop. Even when the flying cymbals are to the fore, as on "Love of My Life," Striker's careful productions still captures the number's yearning quality, as the poignant string section sails overhead. A gorgeous album, beautifully delivered.

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