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Dread Hot In Africa

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Album Review

Leroy Smart began his rise to fame in 1973, and although it took a few years for Europe to feel his heat, 1976's "Ballistic Affair" sent Smart's name smashing through the sound systems, setting the stage for the slew of music that flooded out the following year. Buoyed by "Ballistic"'s success, Channel One unleashed a stellar round-up of recent Smart singles, titled in the U.K., of course, after that hit. Bunny Lee followed with Superstar, a superb set of his Smart productions, recorded a couple of years earlier. The singer himself swiftly added two of his own self- produced albums to the stack, Impressions of Leroy Smart and Dread Hot in Africa. Dread Hot, like all of those sets, was recorded at Channel One Studio, with the Revolutionaries providing the steaming rockers backings. The original album didn't kick off with "Mr Smart," but the re-sequenced CD reissue does, for what better way to introduce the singer to a new generation of fans? Here, Smart plumps his own reputation while spreading a unity message, with peace and love a constant refrain across this set. The album is awash in cultural classics, with "No Love," "Love in My Heart," and the glorious "Jah Jah Forgive Them" arguably the best of a stellar batch. Elsewhere the achy breaky heartache of "Just Tell Me" and the soulful "I Need You Girl" easily cement the singer's loverman reputation. In its original form, Dread Hot was a stunning achievement, but Makasound's reissue tosses in another four lethal cuts. Three — "Man Is So Great," "We Want to Go Home," and "Let Your Heart Be Pure," masterpieces one and all — are taken from the Superstar album, the fourth, the hard to find "Walk Away from Trouble," was self-produced, and is featured here in its "discomix" form. A sumptuous booklet that includes both an interview with the singer and song lyrics just adds to the value of this set. Leroy Smart at his early pinnacle.


Born: Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

A master of love songs and roots material, Leroy Smart has been on the reggae scene since the early '70s. He was raised in Kingston's Alpha Catholic Boys Home and began recording in the early '70s. Smart worked with such producers as Gussie Clarke, Joe Joe Hookin, and Bunny Lee while gaining fame for a flamboyant performance style, exceptionally anguished delivery, and penetrating vocal manner. Smart's smashing voice often seemed about to collapse from anxiety and earnestness mid-song. He has continued...
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Dread Hot In Africa, Leroy Smart
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