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The Best of Leroy Smart

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Album Review

In 1977, the Hoo Kim brothers released Leroy Smart's debut album on their Channel One label, and following in the insolent footsteps of myriad Jamaican producers, titled it The Very Best of Leroy Smart. Still the ten-song set bundled up an excellent batch of the singer's recent singles, and when the album was released in Britain by Conflict later that year, it was titled after one of the most popular, "Ballistic Affair." In the years since the original release, the Hoo Kims obviously reconsidered that "Very Best Of" title, and when they reissued it on CD, they downgraded it to The Best of Leroy Smart. A true best-of set still awaits compilation, but this is a great opening gambit.

Channel One ruled the sound systems in this period, crafting some of the most militant sounds of the decade, built on the Revolutionaries' seething versions of classic Studio One riddims. A number of the tracks within are presented in their extended "discomix" versions further highlight the band's extraordinary sound. However "Ballistic," of course, will be most casual fans' entry point, it remains one of Smart's biggest and best known hits. "Pride & Ambition" (aka "Shame & Ambition") is arguably his best, a song the singer's re-recorded successfully over the years, since he first cut it for Gussie Clarke. Romance and its demise are occasional themes, but it's the potent cultural numbers that are Smart's real draw. "Jehovah" (aka "Jahovia"), "Jah Is My Light," "Marcus," "Be Conscious," and "Badness Don't Pay" are among the classics gathered here. Incidentally, that latter song, like "Ballistic Affair," was written by Frankie Jones, a heartfelt plea for unity in a divided, violent country. All told a superb set, further enhanced by a quintet of bonus numbers drawn from this period. Although Smart recorded numbers as good and some even better than a few found here, this album is still a must-have for every fan.


Born: Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

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

A master of love songs and roots material, Leroy Smart has been on the reggae scene since the early '70s. He was raised in Kingston's Alpha Catholic Boys Home and began recording in the early '70s. Smart worked with such producers as Gussie Clarke, Joe Joe Hookin, and Bunny Lee while gaining fame for a flamboyant performance style, exceptionally anguished delivery, and penetrating vocal manner. Smart's smashing voice often seemed about to collapse from anxiety and earnestness mid-song. He has continued...
Full bio
The Best of Leroy Smart, Leroy Smart
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  • 8,99 €
  • Genres: Reggae, Music
  • Released: 1979

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