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The Fittest

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Album Review

Serious roots reggae fans of a certain age will recognize Earl Sixteen's name immediately: though never a truly major star, over the past four decades he has made significant recordings with such top-ranked producers as Derrick Harriott and Lee "Scratch" Perry. Now in his fifties, he seems to be at the peak of his powers. The Fittest finds him teamed up with a solid group of Dutch session musicians and the production team of Manu Genius and Marc Baronner; the grooves they provide are strictly rootswise, the production style clean but not overly slick, and the songs are uniformly very good. (Maybe a bit too uniformly; a certain sameyness creeps in by about two-thirds of the way through the album, but luckily it's a very attractive sameyness.) Earl himself is in absolutely excellent voice; he sounds very much the way he did in the '70s, his crooning tenor voice a thing of beauty. Best of all, the songs are all presented in "showcase" style: each vocal version segues seamlessly into a dub mix, one of them offering the added bonus of a DJ performance by the legendary U-Roy. The cover lists each version as a separate track, but there is no audible separation between each pair. It's hard to identify highlights, but "Modern Slavery" and his smoky version of William DeVaughn's R&B classic "Big Car" are both especially good.


Born: 1958 in Kingston, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '80s, '90s

b. Earl Daley, 1958, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. After winning local talent shows, Daley joined the group Flaming Phonics as lead vocalist before voicing the self-penned ‘Malcolm X’ for Joe Gibbs in 1975, later covered by Dennis Brown. In 1977 Daley became a member of the Boris Gardiner Happening who introduced him to Lee Perry at the Black Ark. There he recorded four tracks in 1978/9 and met Earl Morgan of the Heptones, who produced his debut album, Singing Star. His next collection was for...
Full bio
The Fittest, Earl Sixteen
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  • 5,99 €
  • Genres: Reggae, Music
  • Released: 25 May 2011

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