On an island awash in sublime singing groups, the Techniques were considered among the best -- if not the best -- of them all. Although formed as a quartet in 1962, the group came into its own during the rocksteady age, and its power remained unabated well into the reggae era. Along the line, the Techniques underwent a series of lineup changes, with over a dozen singers filling their ranks across the years, but the upheavals never affected their standing, and their sound -- regardless of membership -- was immediately identifiable. Between 1965 and 1968, the Techniques put the Treasure Isle label on the map, releasing a treasure chest of hits for producer Duke Reid, and it's from this jewel-encrusted vault that Run Come Celebrate is drawn. From their first cut for the Duke, "Little Did You Know," through such masterpieces as "Queen Majesty," this compilation brings together 16 classic songs from across these years. Dividing its time fairly evenly among the lineups, the listener can sample the many joys of Slim Smith, Pat Kelly, and Junior Menz' lead vocals, alongside the sublime backing singers. Regardless of which singer was leading the Techniques, they had a delicate quality that was unrivaled and their music fluttered with emotion, sweet and passionate. Smith, the Techniques' original vocalist, brought a fragile vulnerability to their sound, even on such joyous ska-fired numbers as "I'm in Love" or such soulful declarations of devotion as "My Whole Life Depends on You." But his, and the Techniques', pièce de résistance was "Queen Majesty," all shimmering falsetto, and a study in heartfelt passion. Kelly, his replacement, was equally passionate, but exuded an emotional strength that gave new impetus to the group. When he sings "It's You I Love," every woman's heart surely melts, and he handles the celebratory title track with aplomb. Menz, who also took the lead at the end of this era, brought a warmth and richness to the group, and songs like "Love Is Not a Gamble" were the aural equivalent of decanted cognac on a winter's night. These 16 tracks merely scratch the surface of the Techniques' repertoire, but provide a stunning overview of this mighty group's work and power.
Run Come Celebrate: Their Greatest Reggae Hits Review
by Jo-Ann Greene