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Jamaica to Toronto Soul Funk & Reggae 1967-1974

Wednesday, Jun 21 2006
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The Great White North may seem an unlikely hotbed for bad-ass breakbeats and soulful grooves, but Seattle-based imprint Light in the Attic offers ample evidence that the capitol of Ontario, Canada, indeed had it going on back in the day with the startling new compilation, Jamaica to Toronto. Culled from cuts unearthed during research for the label's deluxe 2004 reissue of lost soul masterwork Wayne McGhie & the Sounds of Joy, the diverse collection documents the fruitful recorded output of the Jamaican-born players who emigrated to Toronto in the '60s to cater to the sizeable West Indian population that had settled in the northland. Gifted guitarist and songwriter McGhie figures heavily in the mix, penning and playing on almost half of the tracks ranging from funky burners "Chips — Chicken — Banana Split" (as part of Jo-Jo and the Fugitives) and "Love Is the Answer" (with the mysterious one-off outfit Ram) to the smoky riddims of the Johnnie Osbourne roots instrumental "African Wake." Balancing organ fire from Studio One keyboard vets Jackie Mittoo and Lloyd Delpratt (the seductively slinky heater "Together") against stunning soul balladry by the Cougars (a heart-rending take on the Temptations' "I Wish It Would Rain") and vocal duo Ben and Wisdom, Jamaica to Toronto entertains brilliantly while rescuing a remarkable musical legacy from eternal obscurity.

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Dave Pehling

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