The beauty of Jamaican music is that even as time moves on, it always brings the past along for the ride. There may be a constant clamor for the new, but the old never, ever falls out of fashion, it's just reinvented in ever new ways. And few producers were as in love with the past, as determined to revitalize it, as Lloyd "Bullwackie" Barnes was, and his Wackies label established its reputation with sumptuous versions of rocksteady classics. As the years went on, that predilection continued, as I Wanna Dance well illustrates. Here he takes one of that bygone era's greatest singers, Tyrone "Paragons" Evans, and sets him loose over a slew of dancehall fresh versions of classic melodies. And with Sugar Minott engineering and Jackie Mittoo sitting at the keys, you know that those melodies are going get only the most magnificent treatment. The Heptones' "Get in the Groove" was obviously a particular favorite of all concerned, for it's versioned thrice, on "Love the Way," "Down Town," and "Love One Another," with each version distinctly different in both style and atmosphere, and all beautifully handled by Evans. Bringing things a bit closer to home, Evans' former bandmate John Holt's hit "Strange Things" is versioned for the culturally themed "Richman," and even in its modern dancehall guise, Mittoo captures the evocative atmosphere of the original with a slinky Arabesque organ passage. Steely & Clevie dedicated an entire album to the wonders of Studio One, and Barnes could easily fill a boxed set, starting with this album. All the versions are marvelous, with a lushness that defies the lightness of their touch. They're the perfect showcase for Evans, whose own gently emotive delivery is beautifully supported by these rich melodies, the incandescent riddims interweaving with his shimmering tones. All told a splendid set that finds the singer, producer, and musicians all in fine form.
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AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene