Bob Andy was introduced to Jamaican record buyers in the 1960s as a member of the Paragons, the vocal quartet best known for the hit "The Tide Is High." Andy went on to achieve greater fame in the following decade as one half of the vocal duo Bob & Marcia (with Marcia Griffiths) on hits like "Young Gifted and Black" and "Pied Piper" for Harry Johnson. His greatest artistic successes, however, can be found on the three albums the singer recorded for Clement Dodd's Studio One beginning in the late '60s. While selections from The Music Inside Me cropped up on Heartbeat's Retrospective, Lots of Love & I had long been out of print and Andy's exceptional Songbook was available, in CD format, only on this inferior quality Studio One issue. Criticisms about sound and packaging aside, however, Songbook (recorded between 1966 and 1968) remains utterly essential. Though the music preceded the roots era by nearly a half-decade, many of the themes taken up by the dreads of the 1970s can be found blossoming in Andy's late-'60s songs. His classic "I've Got to Go Back Home" must have been one of the earliest songs to deal so explicitly with a "sufferers" theme. The singer's delicate, bittersweet melody is married to a tune of ghetto hardship. "Unchained" attacks slavery with lyrical directness and an impassioned vocal. Covered by Gregory Isaacs, Big Youth, and Barrington Levy, the definitive version of Andy's classic "My Time" is found here. Equally moving are "Going Home," "Let Them Say," "Feeling Soul," and "Crime Don't Pay." A singer and songwriter of the highest order, Andy's place in musical history is assured on the basis of Songbook alone.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Nathan Bush