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Heaven & Earth

Paragons

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Album Review

Bargain-bin reggae albums can take you by surprise sometimes. In most cases, sloppy cover art, a complete lack of musician credits or liner notes, and a generic, almost pseudonymous label name will lead you to expect second-rate material with lackluster sound quality, and you'll be usually right. But this album is an exception to that rule in almost every respect. You'll find it in the mark-down aisle (if you find it anywhere) and you may find it on the Music Trax, Prestige Elite, or Classic Sounds labels, but don't be fooled by the price or the ugly packaging: this is one of the finest albums from the latter part of the Paragons' career. Built on completely uncredited rhythms, some of which may be recycled material from the band's Duke Reid years (though most sound quite a bit more recent than that) and featuring a version of the trio that sounds like it includes the great John Holt (but which may instead be using a sound-alike), Heaven & Earth offers a half hour of solid, warm roots and lovers reggae, including a charming condemnation of modern life called "The Madding Crowd" (or, as the CD cover has it, "The Modelling Crowd"), an excellent anthem of cultural and religious encouragement called "Positive Movement" (or, as the CD cover has it, "Positive Moments") and such gorgeous love songs as "The First Time I Saw You" and "Come a Little Closer." Everything is sung in the group's trademark rich, creamy harmonies and the production quality it surprisingly fine. This is highly recommended.

Heaven & Earth, Paragons
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