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Doin' It Right

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Album Review

Freddie McKay's gritty, soulful vocal style made him one of Jamaica's best singers, and right from the start with the late-1960s release "Love Is a Treasure," recorded for Duke Reid, it was obvious that McKay had an uncommon ability to move his listeners. But his work and legacy (McKay died suddenly under somewhat mysterious circumstances in 1986) have been woefully neglected. Although some of his key tracks are scattered across different reggae compilations, albums of McKay material are difficult to find, a situation that this anthology of Alvin Ranglin-produced songs addresses to some extent, since a little McKay is better than none at all. McKay specialized in bittersweet love songs, and while such fare might fall to the maudlin in less capable hands, he had an amazing ability to make it feel as if he was sitting across the table and telling you his story under intimate circumstances. Perhaps his best-known song, the subtle, gorgeous and emotive "Picture on the Wall," is included here in an expanded version that effectively draws out the telling. "How Can I" and "Some a Dem Weh" are other standouts in a remarkably consistent and cohesive set list. McKay was a subtle singer, and it may take a couple of spins to hear what he is doing with these songs, but when he finally gets to you, you'll want to listen to the stories he tells again and again.


Born: 1947 in St. Catherine, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

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

Rocksteady singer Freddie McKay had a few hits in the '60s (one of which was miscredited to someone else!), recorded with the Soul Defenders, among other studio groups, and worked with Jamaica's top reggae producers Duke Reid, Coxsone Dodd, and Prince Buster. Purportedly born in the late '40s in St. Catherine, Freddie McKay went on to record for the Studio One and Treasure Isle labels, working with studio bands the Revolutionaires, the G.G. Allstars, and the Soul Defenders, with whom McKay cut...
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Doin' It Right, Freddy McKay
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