Slim Smith & The Uniques

The Best of the Uniques 1967-1969

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Slim Smith & the Uniques were the consummate Jamaican vocal group, a trio of singers so sublime that virtually all others pale in their presence. And as was typical of many of the island's acts, their story is convoluted, encompassing two separate lineups, with further archival confusion caused by lead singer Slim Smith releasing a series of exquisite "solo" singles, many backed by his bandmates. Best of the Uniques 1967-1969 concentrates exclusively on the latter-generation Uniques of the rocksteady/early-reggae years, comprising Smith, Jimmy Riley, and Lloyd Charmers. The earlier incarnation had worked with producer Coxsone Dodd, and now the group would link with Bunny Lee, although they occasionally cut singles for others. However, this compilation is drawn in its entirety from their work with Lee, bar the self-produced "Watch This Sound," which Lee himself financed. As is to be expected, the sleeve notes clear up some of the confusion, while simultaneously creating more, but that's an inescapable fact of life for fans of this era. More importantly is the bumper crop of music within, 24 tracks strong, which round up most of the Uniques' biggest hits, but so popular were the trio in their day that inevitably not all could fit on a single disc. All hail the selector who, faced with excruciating choices, will find fans grateful. From spectacular covers -- "Gypsy Woman," "That's the Way Love Is," "My Woman's Love," and the aforementioned "Sound," superb adaptations like "People Rocksteady" through blindingly beautiful originals -- "My Conversation," "The Beatitude,"

"Speak No Evil," "Love and Devotion," and so much more, many composed by Riley alone or with his brother Winston of Techniques fame. The Uniques didn't so much define an era as create it.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
2 3:17
3 3:29
4 3:14
5 4:17
6 3:45
8 2:57
9 2:58
10 2:50
11 3:07
12 2:56
13 3:15
14 2:44
17 3:29
18 2:46
19 2:39
20 2:27
21 2:23
22 3:18
23 2:16
blue highlight denotes track pick