Tears on My Pillow

Johnny Nash

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Tears on My Pillow Review

by Mark Deming

Johnny Nash's embrace of reggae had revitalized his career as well as giving the Jamaican sound a new audience in the United States, but that clearly wasn't all he was interested in, and Nash's 1975 album Tears on My Pillow kicks off with "Why Did You Do It," a fine example of polished Philly soul with an understated disco groove. Bunny Sigler produced the track, along with two other numbers on Tears on My Pillow. Nash's clear but emphatic vocals mesh beautifully with the arrangements, and it's intriguing to imagine what Nash could have done with an entire album recorded with the legendary Sigma Sound crew. Much of the rest of the set was recorded in London and Kingston, with Nash moving back and forth between light but flavorful reggae numbers (including three songs written by Bob Marley) and solid traditional soul, with the title song (a number one hit in the U.K.) offering a little bit of both. The unifying element on this album is Johnny Nash's voice, and the man rarely gets his due as one of the most gifted singers of his era. Nash's approach was simple and straightforward, but he also knew how to deliver a potent emotional performance without showboating; his solid delivery on an eclectic set of material confirms his gift with a song. (He also had a knack for surrounding himself with talent -- these sessions included guest appearances by Bobby Womack, Herbie Hancock, and Hugh Masekela.) Tears on My Pillow was hardly Nash's best or most interesting album, but there's more than enough here to appeal to fans of classic reggae and soul, and it's fine stuff from an underappreciated artist.

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