Justin Hinds / Justin Hinds & the Dominoes

Travel With Love

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Although Justin Hinds & Dominoes are best remembered for their classic cuts from the ska and rocksteady eras, their recordings during the roots era and beyond were equally crucial. The two albums they recorded for Island in the late '70s were deleted so fast that most fans are barely aware of these masterpieces. Thankfully, the Nighthawk label stepped into the breach and brought the trio back to the studio for the phenomenal Travel With Love album. The fabulous backing band creates a hefty roots rhythm supplied by the Barrett Brothers; sumptuous brass parts from Tommy McCook, Felix "Headley" Bennett, and Bobby Ellis; and Earl "Chinna" Smith's gorgeous guitar leads accompanied by Bingy Bunny's expert riffs. With taut percussive elements and quietly riffing keyboards, the result is sumptuous roots with a decidedly rural atmosphere. The title track is an oldie but goodie, originally cut as a single for Duke Reid in 1970, a sweet, simple song that's lost none of its power over the years. "Weeping Eyes" dates back to this same year and was overseen by Sonia Pottinger. It, too, was a guileless number that's further enhanced by the richer arrangement it's given here, plumped up by Smith's twangy guitar lead. Styles may change, but Hinds' themes and lyrics, virtually all allegories reflecting his strong Rastafarian beliefs, have remained unaffected by musical shifts, as has his heartfelt delivery. His pen remains as subtle and supple as ever, and even as he tells listeners to "Get Ready to Rock Steady," Hinds turns the dance into a lesson in righteous living. He follows "The Rainbow" back to his rural home and delivers up an eloquent tribute to country living, paying homage to Jah for it all. The album exquisitely ends with the transcendental "Meditation," where Hinds ponders about the state of the world and mankind. It's a gentle but effervescent album filled with thoughtful lyrics, lovely melodies, and gorgeous harmonies. It's evident the musicians were spellbound by Hinds' songs, and the arrangements and production enhance the delicate quality of the pieces. In 1984 it was far removed from the ever-more electronic-driven Jamaican scene, and all the more glorious for remaining true to its roots soul.

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