Cornell Campbell I Shall Not Remove 1975-80

Cornell Campbell is the classic dub vocalist: a super-spacy voice, administered in precise doses over a burning rhythm. In some ways, this collection is a companion to Blood and Fire's Johnnie Clarke reissue of last year. Johnnie's style is similar, and the prolific Bunny Lee produced them both. I Shall Not Remove contains the full vocal versions of popular dub rhythms. Cornell's singing style owes much to the great Slim Smith, whose falsetto flutters derived in turn from Curtis Mayfield. Cornell also has a strong dose of gospel in his melodies; his much dubbed "Gorgon" series are hymnal melodies atop definitive Bunny Lee rockers grooves. After a while, Cornell's flutter and suspect pitch (even in the frequently atonal land of reggae harmonics) began to grate a little bit. He's just not as affecting a singer as Slim Smith, or Curtis Mayfield for that matter. Fortunately, Bunny Lee's productions are some of his best and King Tubby dubs the proceedings magnificently. While I highly anticipated this collection, I found myself a little disappointed with the song selection. I've heard Cornell sound more impassioned (and of steadier pitch) for other producers. That said, many individual are fabulous: "I Shall Not Remove," "Dance Inna Greenwich Farm" and the Ranking Joe-produced "Bandulu" will rock any crowd. Actually, any track from this collection would do the same, but the whole is less than the sum of its parts. Nevertheless, as a first compilation for Campbell's music, I Shall Not Remove is more than worthy. (Blood and Fire)