Review by Marlon Burrell
About five years has gone by since the first volume of “The Best of Joe Fraser.” We are due for another, and if you are a fan of productions from Lloyd A. Campbell’s Joe Fraser label, you won’t be disappointed. This compilation is filled with hits of the past and present. Most of these songs weren’t massive hits, but there are some absolute gems here. The selections here represent a span of over thirty years, from the early eighties until today.
The album begins with the Mikey Spice ballad “Thank God I’m Free,” which has Mikey Spice sounding like he was born to sing ballads. Wayne Wade’s 2004 version of “After You” shines through with a dub mix that is different (not inferior) than the one I’m used to. I’m glad that the late Tyrone Taylor was included on this compilation. He has simply one of the best singing voices that Jamaica has ever produced and he didn’t record nearly enough. He is true to form with his rendition of “Too Weak To Fight.” Another bright spot is Barbara Jones’ take on John Holt’s “Satisfaction.” She works the song like it was written for her. Freddie McGregor’s “Your Shining Light” from 2006 on an absolutely lethal cut of the “Hypocrites” riddim is not to be missed. That song also features a wicked dub mix.
Jackie Robinson of The Pioneers fame impresses with his 2011 hit version of Brook Benton’s “Rainy Night In Georgia” but is based on Lord Creator’s Studio One version of the song and features some nifty background vocals from Twiggi. It takes something special for an artist to hit more than once with the same song. So it’s like catching lighting in bottle when that said artist hits twice with the same song with the same producer at the helm. That was the case with Freddie McKay and “Oh Carol” which he successfully recorded for Mr. Campbell in 1974. The early eighties version is represented here. Forgotten gems from a trio of deceased artists are also present on this project with George Faith’s “Soulful Lover,” Hugh Griffiths’ “Nice To Be With You,” and “Mr. Walker” from Stanley & The Turbines.
With the selection of hits represented here and some forgotten gems, “The Best of Joe Fraser Vol. 2” is worth a listen and more than worth it’s purchase price. This serves as yet another reminder that good music will indeed continue to live on.