Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jennifer Lara - who knew?

Well, the answer to that is: people who know more about Studio One than I do.

Now listening to the 'Studio One Presents Jennifer Lara' album. She can hold a note which is no mean feat because many of the singing JA daughtas I have heard sing terribly unlistenably flat.
There is a little deja vu of the incomparable Susan Cadogan (who sang quaintly flat in a manner acceptable to these ears!) for producer Lee Perry, but this is from a different time - maybe five years in the difference - and of course this is a Studio One collection. Late 70s stuff this - which means Mr. Mittoo was spending most of his time in Canada and most of the ruffest and tuffest of the Studio One session lads were off doing something else...

Hence some of the familiar riddims are done over (again) in a generally accomplished and fairly enjoyable way though most appealing when the actual backing tracks featuring the original players were employed. This familiarity gives way to a jazzy soul feel that seems to work very well on 'Our Love' though this is a style I'm not overly enthused by - and it basically doesn't sound Jamaican or like reggae, for that matter.

I detect the hand and musical direction of Pablov Black in much of this production. Not a bad thing, but he could never fill the magical gloves of the aforementioned Jackie Mittoo. Obvious to my ears but perhaps not to others.

This is good stuff, but it is Studio One past its musical prime. Mittoo, Sibbles, Frater, Sylvan Morris etc. all gone.

Exception: Stand out track is 'A Change is Gonna Come'. A riddim that may have been done especially for Jennifer Lara (though I doubt it - I just don't know it from elsewhere) and it is over as soon as it began...clocking at 2:18!

I do have to wonder about the album cover photo - poor Jennifer Lara looks not like she is lovelorn but suffering from a case of gastric trouble and a bathroom break is urgently required. Unfortunate, because in previous years so many of the Studio One album covers were highly stylized and very cool indeed. Could just be the reproduction on this...

I mean no unkindness in this appraisal. Just my take on someone I should have known about before, but due perhaps to the quality of the material had no real need to hear. I enjoyed hearing it, but I'm not sure I will be listening to it much. I do find it very sad that Jennifer Lara passed on at the criminally young age of 52 a short few years ago and hope that whoever she has left behind will benefit in some way from her musical efforts.

There is so much more material from Studio One - so make your own mind up...

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