The Mighty Diamonds

Paint It Red

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A great band leaves its audience begging for more, and a great album leaves the listener wishing it would go on forever. And at a mere 35 minutes long, Paint It Red leaves one gnashing one's teeth, or at least hitting the replay button over and over again. The Mighty Diamonds were the consummate roots vocal group, and the trio continues to amaze. Donald Shaw's sweet, warm vocals still thrill, while Fitzroy Simpson and Lloyd Ferguson's glorious harmonies can still make your toes curl, and this entire set expertly showcases their gorgeous singing to very best effect. Almost half the album comprises superb covers, kicking off with a sparkling and bouncy "Putting on the Ritz," encompassing a pair of sublime Motown gems, as well as including a punchy new take on "Stoned out of My Mind," the Chi-Lites' number the Diamonds first covered for the Mighty Two back in the '70s. Such is the trio's talent that their own compositions meld perfectly around these old classics. All of Paint It Red has a gentle '60s flavor, quite a trick considering the forceful dancehall beats underpinning the pieces, but the arrangements play up the lovely melodies for all their worth, abetted by Simpson's airy self-production. Crucial to the set's sound is the fabulous work of Felix "Deadly Headly" Bennett and Dean Fraser, whose brass fires many of the numbers, expertly accompanied by a clutch of studio talent including Steely & Clevie. Even songs like "Posse Are You Ready" with its rockers tinges, the bass-pulsing "Kick up Rumpus," and the even heavier "Hands in the Air" luxuriate in the breezy air. Although most of the numbers revolve around light themes, a few are heavy-hitting -- "Posse," with its prophetic warnings; the soulful pleas of "Not to Blame," a true sufferer's song; and the forceful "Anti Crack," it's vehement anti-drug stance appropriately wrapped in the toughest dancehall rhythm on the set. A luminous album that transports the listener to a land of aural splendor, and one to luxuriate within at your leisure.

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