Jackie Edwards

In Paradise

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Jamaican crooner Jackie Edwards' sentimental (at least on the surface) approach to romantic ballads, combined with a MOR sensibility that often featured lush orchestration on his records, means he is often overlooked when the great Jamaican singers are considered, which is a shame, since his soulful sincerity practically invented the lovers rock genre. This collection of early-'70s sides from the Trojan archives features work Edwards did with his most sympathetic producer, Bunny Lee, and since it is predominantly drawn from Edwards' original compositions, it adds up the best single disc of his material currently on the market. Nothing here is too outrageous, and the smoothness can be lulling at times, but careful listening reveals a strong and winning pop sense (some of these tracks sound more Motown than reggae) surrounding surprisingly subtle and occasionally wry song lyrics. Highlights include the sugary romantic ballad "In Paradise," the equally sweet "Julie on My Mind," "I Do Love You" (which is the peak of snotty reticence masked in confection, with lines like "I love you/sorta/right now"), the impressive doo wop pop of "Who Told You So?" and even a couple of songs that address violent themes, "On the Run (With a Gun)" and its virtual remake, "Johnny Gunman." Edwards' voice stays warm, wise and unhurried throughout, and if he seldom challenged his listeners, he also never failed to deliver his signature style.

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