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The Charmers

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Right up to the rocksteady age, the duo of Lloyd "Charmers" Terel and Roy "Teddy Charmers" Willis entranced Jamaica and beyond with their music. The pair partnered up in the late '50s, building a strong reputation in Kingston's sound systems and clubs. It wasn't until the new decade, though, that their records were made available. The duo's first disc to hit the shops was 1961's "I'm Going Back Home," a song immediately snapped up by the British Blue Beat label. The number was produced by Coxsone Dodd, who unleashed a stream of Charmers' 45s over two years. "Oh Why Baby," "Sweeter She Is," "I Am Through," "Cutie," "Angel Love," "Beware," "My Heart," "What's the Use," "Love Forever," "Sweet Baby," "Long Walk Home," and "Jeannie Girl" all landed on 45. All proved popular, with "Jeannie" the biggest seller of the batch. The Charmers broke with Dodd in 1962, and recorded a few sizzling numbers for Theo Beckford before linking up with Prince Buster. "Crying Over You"/"Now You Want to Cry" was their debut for him, with many more to follow. Along the way, the duo also cut singles for Justin Yap, Byron Lee, Linden Pottinger, and D. Dunkley. The pair's final recordings were for King Edwards, for whom they cut "Try Me One More Time," "You Don't Know," and "Where Do I Turn." In 1966, ex-Technique frontman Slim Smith approached Terel about joining his new vocal group, the Uniques. The Charmer immediately agreed, bringing the duo to an end -- but not the Charmers' name. Terel would release a flood of solo singles under the name Lloyd Charmers, and would resurrect the Charmers moniker for a clutch more of his singles during the reggae age. "Skinhead Train," for example, was credited to the Charmers, although it's really a funky instrumental with the singer toasting on top. "Just My Imagination" was actually a solo single with backing harmonies, but it too was credited to his old duo. Highly successful in their day, the Charmers delivered R&B, ballads, and rollicking ska numbers with equal aplomb, their sweet, emotive vocals always a delight. But with their back catalog scattered to the wind and the Buster numbers yet to be compiled, they remain among Jamaica's greatest unsung heroes. ~ Jo-Ann Greene

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