Wayne McGhie and the Sounds of Joy

Wayne McGhie / The Sounds of Joy

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Wayne McGhie and the Sounds of Joy Review

by Thom Jurek

Of all the sides cut in Toronto as a result of the West Indian migration to Canada, none is more storied than the single LP cut by singer, guitarist, and songwriter Wayne McGhie and the Sounds of Joy in 1969 and issued in 1970. McGhie, from Montego Bay, came to Canada to gig with Ike (Jojo) Bennett, who also employed Alton Ellis, Lloyd Delpratt, and Jackie Mittoo. McGhie's vocal prowess was extraordinary, and his songwriting and arranging skills were just as fine. Bennett scored him a recording date through a friend, and he assembled a cast of characters that amounted to legend. Along with Delpratt, Ellis, and Bennett, bassist Winston Clark, Leo Trott, and Everton Paul joined the scattershot sessions. The resulting album included six McGhie originals and four inventive covers. The music styles ranged from a reggae version of "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," and the rootsy pulsing "Cool It," to the greasy, ramped-up funk of "Fire (She Need Water)" -- that sounds like James Brown fronting the Meters -- and "Dirty Funk" (with a killer opening drum break), to the steamy soul in "Goin' in Circles," and "When I Think of Home," to the pumping Jamaican R&B-styled rave-ups of R.B. Greaves "Take a Letter Maria," and the majestic balladry in Jimmy Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix." All of these tracks are anchored by McGhie's voice, gritty enough to be believable, smooth enough to get the emotion across, and completely original in its phrasing.

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