Ken Boothe A Man and His Hits

Boothe’s diversity in his early days at Studio One is admirable — his early covers are from artists like Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett to Fats Domino (“Oh Babe”)and Manfred Mann (“Tomorrow”) and the tracks on this album reflect the diversity fully by incorporating his early ska and rock steady work with famed reggae keyboardist Jackie Mittoo alongside his later solo reggae work (which features people like the late, great Delroy Wilson and, on his 1996 remade hit “The Train is Coming,” crossover-king Shaggy). Familiar harmonies dot this album; some of the first few songs are backed by the Soul Brothers and the Wailers. Yet Boothe’s sweet, strong lead singing abilities are brilliantly evident in songs like “You’re on my mind” and “Tomorrow.” “Danger Zone” (the Pickett cover) is lyrically suggestive and testifies to Boothe’s Casanova reputation. “Won’t You Come Home” with Delroy Wilson, is a fine testimony of his soulful, honeyed style of crooning love songs (and also explains why C.S. Dodd, the head of Studio One only wanted him to sing lover’s rock). The other big hits on the album are “You’re No Good,” which is sweet ska along the lines of Marley’s Simmer Down, the pensive lament “Thinking” and “Without Love,” which gave birth to the popular “Movin’ Away” rhythm. Though this album was originally released in 1967, this re-release features a couple of extra tunes and fine re-mastering and is as worthy now as it was then. As Coxsone Dodd said, “It’s really shocking to realise a guy still got de goods.” Nuff said. (Studio One)