Smilin' Island of Song is a musical tour of Jamaica hosted by Cedella Marley-Booker (mother of the late Bob Marley), is nowhere near as fun as it should be. As the disc begins, we join a young girl named Jenny on her trip to visit Mother Booker in Jamaica, where we'll meet various human and animal personalities as we journey around the island. The music is great, a sort of reggae/calypso fusion with traditional folksongs that kids will love. But the between-song patter that links the tunes together is difficult to follow and sometimes downright obnoxious -- one of the characters, an unidentified animal whose name seems to be Mattie, punctuates everything he says with a nerve-shredding hyena laugh. The album's highlights are provided by multi-instrumentalist David Lindley and the wonderful singing of Taj Mahal.
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AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson