Derrick Harriott

Sings Jamaican Rock Steady-Reggae

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AllMusic Review by

Common wisdom has long stated that Derrick Harriott's lack of international success was due to the preponderance of cover songs within his repertoire. Perhaps, but it certainly didn't seem to slow down John Holt's career and reputation (think of his 1000 Volts of Holt album series). Nor was it a reflection on his talent, Harriott is an extraordinary vocalist and an exceedingly adept producer, as this magnificent compilation illustrates;,as sensational as its title. Not surprisingly, the set is cover-heavy, with Harriott astutely choosing numbers that best showcase his vocals, most drawn from the Motown songbook. Both "Sitting on Top" and "The Girl's Alright with Me" feature his fabulous falsetto, while "You Really Got a Hold on Me" and "It's Alright" throw the spotlight on his powerful and emotive vocals. The Pastels' 1958 hit "Been So Long" is a showstopper, awash in gorgeous vocals and harmonies. Dawn Penn's "Close to Me" allows the singer to showboat his smoothest, most soulful vocals; Holt's own "Riding for a Fall" his more emotive ones; while "Message From a Black Man" is even more potent when delivered in proto-roots style. Harriott's own compositions are equally masterful, from the smoldering rocksteady "Sock It to Me," and the Biblically inspired "Tang Tang Festival," to the glorious "Home, Home, Home." And although the focus is on the singer, the backings are equally noteworthy, provided by Lyn Taitt and the Jets and the Crystalites, drenching the disc in bright reggae and sumptuous rocksteady accompaniments that enhance every track. It's a magnificent set, even though it contains none of Harriott's biggest hits, which tells you just how phenomenal his canon truly is.

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