For those who like their reggae uplifting and soulful, Ken Parker’s career should already be familiar. This compilation spans the years of 1967-1973, important times and then some in the dissemination of the genre to an audience desperate for new sound – albeit here with a sonically familiar focus.
Essentially, Parker’s years as a recording artist have been influential, if not always recognised for their impact. Beginning as a Studio One artist – auditioning at one stage for Toots And The Maytals - a variety of early singles and collaborations established Parker as a vocalist with a superbly expressive vocal range (check out that falsetto, people) and the rare knack of effortlessly interpreting sweet songs with honest sentiment and potent performance.
Working with the likes of legendary producer Bunny Lee, Parker’s versions of tracks by the likes of Fats Waller, Kris Kristoffersson and Sam Cooke launched the vocalist into a higher strata; his accessible and user-friendly groove an antidote to the more hazardous pill peddled by the explosion of Jamaican artists throughout the late 60s and early 70s.
This is, to all intents and purposes, a pop record. But, hey, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. These days our ears are so attuned to extremes of emotion and genre that often we forget that music, at its simplest, can provide a fix of naivety and nonchalant class that is every bit as important as the complex soundscapes to which we have access every day of our lives. How lucky are we?
In that respect, this record is aptly titled… groovin’ in style indeed. Stick it on that ol’ battered ghetto-blaster, whack in a couple new AA batteries and play frisbee by the barbecue. And isn’t that equally as important as sitting around in a darkened room and appreciating the latest release by Scandinavian knob n kenetix twiddlers?
Back to bass-kicks sounds that speak direct to the happy chip in the brilliantine brain of the bleating multitude.