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Everybody Needs Love

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Album Review

Everybody Needs Love is an exceptional rocksteady record. Fans of his Studio One material will be equally pleased with these Bunny Lee-produced gems. The emotional investment that Smith puts into these pieces makes it difficult to imagine them not as stories from his own life but as the covers that many of them actually are. He simply pours so much into these songs that the plights detailed in their respective lyrics make every one of them seem like a legitimate concern on his part. And if that weren't enough, the instrumentation is absolutely stunning throughout — an appropriate launching pad for Smith's stellar vocal delivery. This combination makes even exhausted covers, like "Somebody to Love" (actually "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love"), new and fresh experiences all over again, while the otherwise questionable decision to cover "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" produced a version as sensual and funky as anything else in his catalog. This record, as well as the better available Born to Love CD, is one of the best examples of the American soul influence on early reggae, making all the more puzzling Smith's outright exclusion from the Soul Jazz Studio One Soul compilation. Fans of that collection especially should see what they're missing out on with this very enjoyable record. Highest recommendation.

Everybody Needs Love, James Smith
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