Various Artists

R&B Hits Rockers Style

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Although R&B Hits Rockers Style represents a slight name change, this set of smooth, mellow, and intoxicating light reggae covers of R&B classics from Joe Fraser Records is very much in the same groove as the label’s R&B Hits Reggae Style series. Each features solid vocalists finding surprising turns to take with familiar songs over bright and sometimes lush Caribbean soundscapes that have just enough reggae in them to keep them from being straight pop. It’s a winning formula for a long drive on a beautiful sunny day. Among the highlights here are Richie Stephens and Maxi Priest's so-smooth-you-can’t-believe-it’s-not-butter version of “Still Water Runs Deep,” J.D. Smooth's languidly joyous take on Marvin Gaye's “What’s Goin’ On,” and Don Campbell's endearingly genteel turn at “Handyman” -- which almost makes James Taylor's version sound uptight and tense. The production on these tracks is so smooth that they almost fall into the wait-in-the-lobby-until-we-call-your-name music category, but there’s also an effervescence here that lifts them. This is music to drive to when you have no particular hurry left to worry about in your day.

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