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Ken Boothe

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Album Review

There are several Ken Boothe best-of collections on the market, any one of which would probably be a better introduction to the Jamaican singer than this one, which manages to include none of his significant hits. That means no "Everything I Own," "Train Is Coming," "Feel Good," or "Crying Over You," or his covers of "Puppet on a String" or "Mustang Sally," both of which are excellent recordings. Boothe's forte is in doing rocksteady versions of familiar pop and soul hits, and his singing is so good that he consistently brings something interesting to the table, which means tracks here like the opener, "Help Me Make It Through the Night," are definitely worth hearing, but then he also attempts a one-drop version of the Beatles' "Yesterday" that is difficult to get through. Just because you can doesn't mean you should, goes the old adage, and it certainly applies in the case of "Yesterday." Hardcore fans might find this set useful, but casual listeners are advised to look elsewhere for a decent introduction to Boothe's work.

Biography

Born: 22 March 1948 in Denham Town, Kingston, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Ken Boothe was one of the most popular and soulful singers of the rocksteady era, arguably second only to Alton Ellis. Where Ellis was silky smooth, Boothe's vocals were deeper and grittier, earning him a reputation as Jamaica's answer to Wilson Pickett. First rising to popularity as part of a ska duo with Stranger Cole, Boothe forged a solo career on Clement "Coxsone" Dodd's Studio One label during rocksteady's prime, building a generous part of his repertoire on American soul covers....
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