CD Don Man (CD 147654),
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1. Ram Dance Hall
2. How I Care For You
3. All Out of My Mind
4. Sexy Thing (You Got the Body)
5. End of the Road
6. You Remind Me
7. Row the Boat
8. It Feels So Real
10. Here I Go Again
11. Let's Stay Together
12. Here I Go Again (Underground Soul Vibe)
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): CDHB 146
Personnel: Frankie Paul (vocals), Lloyd "Gitsy" Willis (guitar), Herbie Miller, Robbie Lyn, Dow Brain (keyboards), Chris Wilson (drums).
Producers: Niney The Observer (tracks 1-5, 7-11); Niney The Observer, Chris Wilson (tracks 6, 12).
Engineers: Malcolm, Colin "Bulbie" York, Junior Edwards (all tracks).
Recorded at Mixing Lab, Kingston, Jamaica.
By the early '90s, Frankie Paul may no longer have been the top-ranked singer in the dancehalls, but this was no reflection of the quality of the music he was recording during these years. The 1993 release Don Man is a case in point, a strong set that's dancehall-fired but soul-inspired. With Niney Holness in the producer's chair, inevitably the beats rule, and Sly Dunbar serves them up forcefully, while partner in crime Robbie Shakespeare sends out basslines with the pulsing throb of a heartbeat. Keyboardists Herbie Miller and Robbie Lyn conjure up strong melodies, heady atmospheres, and myriad moods out of the highly digitized proceedings, abetted by Lloyd "Gitsy" Willis' surprisingly delicate guitar work. More than half the set is given over to covers, running the gamut from Boyz II Men to Mary J. Bilge, but of the originals, the one-drop rhythms supporting the dread-fired "Ram Dance Hall," the culturally themed "Row the Boat," and the sufferer's "Recession" will fire up the roots fans, while the lusher R&B arrangement backing the slice-of-life "It Feels So Real" will thrill urban audiences. The covers are just as inspired, with Holness and company mixing up styles to dramatic effect, from the hint of steel drums that bop about "How I Care for You" to the bluesy guitar riff that licks around "End of the Road" and "Sexy Thing (You Got the Body)." Paul's performance on that latter song is so sultry that the disc virtually ignites under his incendiary tones. Agilely shifting from dancehall delivery to stirring, soulful performances, the singer stamps his imprimatur as heavily on the covers as the originals. Mixed down by Collin "Bulbie" York and Lynford "Fatta" Marshall, the entire album has a crispness of sound that defies the organic, rootsy feel conjured up even through the most digitized riddims. A superb set that proudly declares Paul's standing in the dancehalls hasn't been eclipsed just yet. ~ Jo-Ann Greene
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Heartbeat Select CDHB 146
Bayside Record Dist.
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