The Ethiopians

Owner Fe De Yard

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Intriguing, but far from definitive, collection of Leonard Dillon and the Ethiopians that bundles up recordings over a two decade period from 1966 through 1986. Not a hits set, instead the compilation concentrates on lesser-known numbers, rarities, and the odd unreleased recordings. Unsurprisingly, the album bounces around chronologically, the surprising thing is that it barely notices; in fact, without the sleeve notes, it would be virtually impossible to accurately date most of these tracks. Partially this is due to the Jamaican penchant for constantly revisiting earlier sounds, but mostly it's down to the vocalists themselves. The Ethiopians never musically progressed, they had no need to, as they'd found their true, mature sound right from the start. The songs themselves are a marvelous blend of music and themes. Love ballads, sufferers laments, devotional numbers, and cultural songs are all brought together by the magic Dillon's vocal delivers, as powerfully sincere on the odd love song as on the more fiery numbers. The singers were assisted by top-notch production, exceptional musicians, and, with a few rare exceptions, sympathetic arrangements across the years, a fact this collection also highlights. The overall quality of the tracks is so high that it's difficult to play favorites, but the title track in a knockout; "One Heart" a surprising change of pace for the group, and performed somewhere between a DJ's exultation and a Baptist preacher's exuberance; while the heartfelt "Bad From Worse" (one of the few hits included), with its achingly lovely harmonies are just a few of the wonders that await the listener. Adding to the pleasure are liner notes, which feature an interview with Dillon himself.

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