Showing the influence of Curtis Mayfield and Sam Cooke, singer Slim Smith's work spanned the ska, rock steady and early reggae eras in Jamaica, where he recorded with producer Bunny Lee both as a solo act and with the harmony group the Uniques. The excellent Trojan compilation Rain from the Skies includes selections from the years just prior to his premature death in 1973, and ably showcases Smith's expressively agile voice. Deftly moving between falsetto and low vibrato, Smith conveys a variety of moods on the Delroy Wilson covers "Money Love" and "Travel On"; studied cool turns into brash bravado, which then dissolves into anguish. Then on "Sitting in the Park," his aloof yet lonesome vocal performance perfectly distills the bittersweet taste of unrequited love. Smith's penchant for vocal variety influenced his choice of material as well. Covers of Mayfield's "It's Alright" and Cooke's "Send Me Some Loving" blend in well with pop material like Little Anthony and the Imperials' "Take Me Back" and Carole King's "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," in addition to the classic Smith originals "Sunny Side of the Sea" and "Stand Up and Fight." Backed by Jamaican studio luminaries such as bassist Aston "Family Man" Barrett, pianist Gladstone Anderson and tenor saxophonist Val Bennett, Smith delivers a generously varied selection of solid rock steady numbers on Rain from the Skies. Check this one out to get a nice slice of Jamaican soul before Rasta appeared on the scene.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook