Johnny Osbourne

Sexy Thing

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A bit of a chizz, this 1994 set. Not really a compilation and not really a new album, Sexy Thing takes advantage of reggae fans' unsatiated hunger for Jamaican singles, and delivers up the goods. The set is built around Johnny Osbourne's 1992 Groovin', an album that itself bundled a batch of the singer's recent hits, throwing in a few new numbers for good measure. Half that set appears here, along with more recent singles, including the title track, a soulful ragga version of the Hot Chocolate smash. With the riddims laid down by Steely & Clevie, Sly & Robbie, Danny Browne, and Robbie Lyn, the backings are top-notch, thoroughly digitized, and always innovative. Only a handful of the numbers are originals, notably the dancehall threats "Kill a Sound Tonight" and "Back Out," as well as the delightfully witty "Yo Yo," with the bulk of the set given over to quite inspired covers. Beyond "Sexy Thing," there are versions of Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do with It," Harry Belafonte's Caribbean chestnut "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)," the Mindbenders' '60s fave "A Groovy Kind of Love" (which Phil Collins would later take back into the chart), and the Young Rascals' easygoing "Groovin'," among others. Needless to say, the musicians thoroughly deconstruct these well-loved classics, in the case of the Impressions' "People Get Ready" melding the Wailers' "One Love" into the mix. But no matter how far afield the riddims range, and regardless of how computerized they're delivered, Osbourne gives them all a soulful sheen. So there you have it: another batch of hits, straight from Jamaica's dancehalls and right onto the world's dancefloors, the first half of the '90s in all its ragga glory.

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