Uniques: Late 60s Reggae Style

16th July 2019

Title: Absolutely The…Uniques

Label: Music on Vinyl

Trios were a popular group format in the early 60s as ska became a popular phenomenon in Jamaica. In this rocksteady/reggae case, the trio got together from the Techniques (i.e. Slim Smith and Franklyn White) plus Roy Shirley but that line-up morphed into Smith again but this time with Lloyd Charmers and Jimmy Riley. This trio were only together for a year or so but, in that time, they racked up many hit songs including Watch This Sound (a re-working of Stephen Stills’ For What It’s Worth) for the group’s own Tramp label. Curtis Mayfield’s Gypsy Woman was another top quality cover. There were original compositions in the mix too of course. Songs like A Yuh and Speak No Evil reflected early reggae stylings.

All of these songs appear in this album, which was released in 1968 on Trojan (the band would split soon afterwards as the group members undertook their own solo careers).

Uniques: Late 60s Reggae Style

As you might expect from reading the above, the songs on this album are more about collecting and collating singles than forging any sort of album template or concept. That said, that’s not a big problem because the tracks are all of high quality in song-writing terms.

As for audiophile terms? Well, elegance and fragility are two words that you won’t find when describing the sonic qualities of this LP. There’s some compression here. Dynamically restricted, slightly clinical, rolled-off mids and pinched treble give a cool face to the music. In many ways, you just have to forgive the recording because, as the saying goes, “it is what it is”. Because of the time and the place and original facilities available, the recording quality is as expected, in other words. 

Nevertheless, Music on Vinyl has done a fine mastering job, rescuing the recording. It sounds sparse in terms of detail but remains perfectly listenable.

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