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Album Review

Jackie Mittoo moved from his native Jamaica to Toronto, Canada in 1968 and quickly threw his hat into the local music scene, bringing with him his funky reggae keyboard sensibility. He had some chart success with the infectious instrumental "Wishbone" (based, it would appear, on the central riff from the Beatles' "Carry That Weight") in 1971, and released the supporting album Wishbone that same year. A joyous, upbeat affair that wasn't reggae at all, but a cosmopolitan mix of soul, funk, gospel, jazz and fusion with a subtle and compelling Jamaican underside, the Wishbone LP became a rare and sought-after collector's classic over the years, and now Seattle's Light In The Attic Records has finally released this bouncy gem on CD, drawn directly from the original two-track master tapes. Again, this isn't your basic one-drop reggae record, and fans looking for hard Kingston rhythms (and Mittoo did plenty of those at Studio One) will be a little surprised to discover little or none of that on Wishbone. The Jamaican influence is present, certainly, but cuts like the endearing title track really sound much more like Booker T. & the MGs than the the Skatalites, and it's clear that Mittoo was trying to make a pop-funk record that blended all of his various influences into an accessible and commercial sound, which included carefully arranged horns to punch things up a notch and the use of strings to sweeten everything down and give the album a panoramic feel. What flies out of every track is a boundless joy, and Wishbone literally bounces along like an energizer bunny, until it's impossible to resist it, even if no single track actually takes one's head off in one swoop. It's an accumulative thing, and Wishbone is so insistently positive and upbeat as a sequence that it works like a sunny day tonic. Kudos to Light In The Attic for bringing this long out of print delight back into circulation.


Born: March 3, 1948 in Browns Town, Jamaica

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

Keyboard virtuoso Jackie Mittoo was among the true legends of reggae -- a founding member of the Skatalites and an extraordinarily prolific songwriter, he was perhaps most influential as a mentor to countless younger performers, primarily through his work as the musical director at the famed Studio One. Born Donat Roy Mittoo in Browns Town, Jamaica on March 3, 1948, he began playing keyboards at the age of four, and was rarely far from a piano through his teen years, performing professionally in...
Full Bio
Wishbone, Jackie Mittoo
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