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Happy Together

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Album Review

Diversity, both thematically and musically, has always been Sugar Minott's forte, and over time the artist has dipped his toes into ever more varied stylistic waters, but on Happy Together he dives in head first. What helped him take the plunge, perhaps, was the album's patchwork recording history — sessions took place in the U.S. (Wackies Studio accompanied by Wayne Chin's Chinafrica Band), London, and Kingston (with the Firehouse Crew). One of the album's most remarkable numbers was recorded in London, the delicious title track, a cover of the Turtles' pop classic. It opens with big-band swing, then the sonorous vocals take over, vying with the synth pop melody, military-tattooed beat, and the pure toast that takes the track out. Sheer brilliance. Although nothing else comes close for pure shock value, virtually all of Happy Together features new twists and musical turns; this is Minott at his most creative. Lovers rock is totally raggafied, then placed firmly in the dancehall, where it rubs shoulders with an equally ragga-ed funk track that's showered in a shiny urban gloss. Elsewhere, lyrical themes are counterpointed by unexpected musical arrangements. "Too Much Oppressors," a sufferer's song, is wrapped up in a pure poppy dancehall, without even a hint of roots to give listeners their bearings. "My Girl She's Gone" plays the same trick on lovers rock, with only the dulcet harmonies and snatches of horn providing the merest nod to its true roots. "Come to Me," ostensibly a retro vocal trio-esque track with a rocksteady tempo, is deconstructed dancehall style, while "Nuh Go Run Down Vanity" speeds up the tempo and turns rocksteady into a sublime ragga offering. And so it goes, across the album's ten innovative tracks. Nothing is quite as it seems, which is the album's beauty, and becomes ever more interesting and enjoyable with every listen.


Born: 25 May 1956 in Kingston, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Few artists had the impact on Jamaica's dancehall scene as Sugar Minott. His releases provided the blueprints for the rise of the contemporary dancehall style, he was also equally influential as a producer, and his extraordinarily popular sound system helped launch numerous new DJs into the limelight. Lincoln Barrington Minott was born in Kingston, Jamaica, on May 25, 1956. He began his career in the sound systems while still a child, working as a selector for the Sound of Silence Keystone outfit,...
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Happy Together, Sugar Minott
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