Groovin' Out on Life

Hopeton Lewis

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Groovin' Out on Life Review

by Steve Leggett

Although Jamaica's Hopeton Lewis has become one of the Caribbean's best-known reggae gospel singers, his earlier career saw him turning his rich baritone vocals to soulful secular tunes, many of them covers, and this 1973 release, originally recorded for Byron Lee's Dynamic Sound imprint, gives a balanced look at the singer's output during this period. Included is Lewis' signature tune (at least during his non-gospel days), "Take It Easy," which is said to have been the very first rocksteady song when it was initially tracked in 1966 (the version here is a do-over), the impressive title song, "Grooving Out on Life," which was originally done by the Newbeats, and two cuts that show off Lewis' soulful delivery (and also sport delightful horn charts), "Love Is a Beautiful Thing" and "God Bless Whoever Sent You." The version here of "Funky Kingston" is similar to -- but not the same as -- Toots & the Maytals' song of the same title, but Lewis and Toots both reveal strong gospel roots in their renditions. This CD reissue of Groovin' Out on Life fails to add any bonus tracks to the original LP's running order, making this a rather brief outing, but it effectively illuminates Lewis' deep soul roots, and behind that, his gospel beginnings.

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