Freddie McGregor has been recording for 53 years and shows no signs of slowing down. He has demonstrated an uncanny ability to remain relevant through the years and continues to add hits to his illustrious musical catalog. At his recent album release, he stated that he feels that he is just hitting his peak and that he is writing, singing, and articulating better. It’s hard to imagine someone who just turned 60 years old peaking, but after listening to his latest offering “True To My Roots,” I’m can‘t argue against it.
The title is fitting to this album and the title track opens this delightful set. Remarkably, there is no drop off in quality throughout. Right behind the title track on the same cut of the “Heavenless” riddim, Freddie pays homage to his friend Dennis Brown with his rendition of “Your Love’s Got A Hold On Me.” Up next is the Steely & Clevie produced “Calling,” on their cut of the “Weather Balloon” riddim. This is the third hit single from the album. It calls the righteous to stand up for what is right and is currently moving up the charts. The three songs that follow, “I’m A Soldier,” “Master Design,“ and “Sen’ Come Call Me” are all worthy of being singles themselves and can certainly stand on their own merits. The latter track is also a Steely & Clevie production and features their cut of The Chantells’ “Waiting In The Park” riddim. The nyabinghi flavored “One Of These Days” is an inspirational and moving track written and produced Cleveland “Clevie” Browne. “I’m falling In Love With You” is another song capable of standing on its own as a single as is “Rasta Ha’ Fi Party” featuring his sons Chino and Stephen “Di Genius.” The latter track is a bouncy track that has appeal to the Rastafarian community and Freddie’s younger fans.
The next song on the album is the song that opened 2016 on top of both The Foundation Radio Network New York Top 30 chart and The South Florida Top 25 Reggae Singles chart, the outstanding “What You Gonna Do.” Freddie also gives a superlative rendition of The Beatles’ “I’ll Be Back,” utilizing the same riddim track as the Errol Dunkley’s version of the song from the “Steely & Clevie Presents Memories” album. With the conglomerate of producers utilized for this project, it’s no wonder we get such an awesome end product. Brothers Dalton & Cleveland “Clevie” Browne teamed up to produce 5 cuts with an additional 4 from the tandem of Steely & Clevie. Lloyd & Michelle Campbell contribute productions on three tracks with Freddie’s son Stephen producing one.
Another brother tandem, “Carlton “Dillie” McLeod and Raymond “Sting” McLeod of Stingray Records out of the U.K. produced one song. There is no shortage of memorable tunes on this album. Freddie McGregor manages to remain true to his roots while simultaneously breaking new ground. “True To My Roots” contains 15 track of pure listening pleasure. There are no misses here and Freddie shows no signs of curbing his output after 53 years of recording. One of Jamaica’s finest musical treasures.