The Jolly Boys Featuring Albert Minott

Great Expectations

BY Brent HagermanPublished May 3, 2011

This aging mento band were in danger of becoming a footnote in Jamaican music history, but, thanks to Geejam producer Jon Baker, the Jolly Boys are enjoying a second coming. Baker gives these geriatrics the Rick Rubin treatment, recording them mento-izing classic rock and pop songs, but he also adds lots of contemporary flavour, mostly through the addition of drum sequencing. The best tracks put the mento rhythms and instruments (tenor banjo, rumba box) front and centre; the weakest are made so only by Baker's intrusive hand and his preference for commercial MOR fodder (such as the Stones' "You Can't Always Get What you Want," Steelie Dan's "Do it Again" and Human League's "Don't You Want Me Baby"). The band, however, are regal throughout. In their able hands, "I Fought the Law" becomes a pre-independence Jamaican anthem, Iggy's "Nightclubbing" is raw and fresh, and the Stranglers "Golden Brown" is simply superb. But the crème de la crème is Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" (recorded over a year ago). Albert Minott's throaty baritone and the band's sexy swagger not only do the original justice, but imbue it with new meaning, crossing cultural, gender and age borders. Expectations surpassed.

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