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Mr. Fix It / California Dreaming (Remastered)

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Album Review

Blessed with a smooth, silky, and soulful voice, Winston Francis really hit his stride with a solid pair of rocksteady singles he recorded for Clement Dodd and Studio One in the late '60s, "Mr. Fix It" and a spooky Jamaican remake of the Mamas & the Papas' hit "California Dreaming." Each song generated and served as the title for its own album, and both of those albums are combined here on a single disc, along with two bonus cuts, a radio edit and an extended mix of "Let's Go to Zion." Francis is a confident and versatile singer, and a skillful mimic when necessary, so that when he tackles Sam Cooke's "Chain Gang" or Sly Stone's "Stand," it is almost as if Cooke and Stone had gone island, so close are the vocal inflections to the original singer. Another cover that works well here is a version of David Ruffin's post-Temptations single, "I've Lost Everything I've Ever Had," although Francis takes a less desperate and more resigned approach to the vocal, muting the powerful pain and regret in Ruffin's original vocal to a kind of offhand, chilling sadness. Another highlight is the tense, spooky "Don't Change," which adds just a hint of garage jangle to the rocksteady mix. The organ-led Coxsone rhythms that grace this two-fer are classic Studio One, sporting an impressive array of Jamaican session players, including Ernest Ranglin, Leroy Sibbles, Dwight Pinkney, and Jackie Mittoo, and a perhaps even more impressive stable of backup singers with the likes of Bob Marley, Ken Boothe, and Dennis Brown helping Francis at the microphone. The two albums collected here remain the heart of Winston Francis' recorded legacy, and make an obvious beginning point for listeners interested in checking out one of Jamaica's finest vocalists.


Born: 1948 in Kingston, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '80s, '90s

Reggae artist Winston Francis has been a supporter of the genre since its birth in Jamaica during the '60s. During the aforementioned decade, he was a member of such outfits as the Sheridans (which also included future noted reggae musician Pat Kelly), before joining and singing with Carlos Malcolm & the Afro Jamaicans. By the late '60s, Francis had relocated to the United States and was introduced to renowned reggae producer Clement "Coxsone" Dodd (who earlier helped shape the career of Bob Marley),...
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Mr. Fix It / California Dreaming (Remastered), Winston Francis
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