Garnett Silk

Give I Strength

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During his tragically short career, Garnett Silk cut a slew of songs for a variety of producers, unleashing a flood of hits before his death in 1994. Arguably, though, his best work was done with Bobby "Digital" Dixon, the man who released his debut album It's Growing. Give I Strength compiles another 16 phenomenal numbers recorded for the producer. Although the set is split between cultural and romantic numbers, the former are so powerful they tend to totally overshadow the latter. The devotional songs are all masterpieces -- "Kingly Character" and "Splashing Dashing" are both glorious, infectious celebrations of God's greatness; "Give I Strength" is a fervent, anthemic prayer, while "Silk Chant" is an inspired, and inspiring, sermon, taken directly from Psalm 68.

The equally superb "Every Knee Shall Bow," on the Stalag rhythm, unites the singer with Charlie Chaplin and Cocoa Tea to exalt Jah and give thanks. "Rejoice in His Name" takes to task a friend who no longer does, for, as Silk explains on the high stepping, jazzy "The Rod," "music is the rod and we are Moses," and the singer is determined to lead fans to the Promised Land.

But even the righteous face road bumps along the way, and on "Judge Not," Silk reasons with those quick to judge him and others, a theme revisited on "Don't Test," where the harassed singer turns on those making his life a misery.

"Character," "Splashing," "Knee," and "Rod" were all big hits, but the others were of no lesser quality. The powerful "I Am Not for Sale" was also a chart buster, wherein Silk fends off a rich temptress. The rest of the set revolves around matters of the heart -- love songs, wooing numbers, heartache, heartfelt romances, and, in the case of "Like a Mother to Me," an exquisite paean to the perfect woman.

Digital, who also arranged the numbers, created phenomenal backings that enrich the moods and atmospheres Silk conjures up, all expertly laid down by the likes of Danny Browne, Winston "Bo Peep" Bowen, Dean Fraser, with Brian & Tony Gold among those providing the exquisite harmonies. Even with all the music Silk cut, there's little he recorded that doesn't resonate on some level. This set, however, contains much of his strongest work; it's a true collection of classics.

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