Freddie McGregor - Mr McGregor
Release dateJan 2009
VP’s vintage division, 17 North Parade turn to the fiery productions of Niney the Observer with this revival of Freddie McGregor’s first long-playing release. Freddie may have carved out a niche as a singer of nice and easy love tunes during the eighties, but has always kept his hand in at the rootical end of things; as evidenced by last year’s Nah Sell Out The Ting for Road Dog Records and his recut of Rastaman Camp on Roots Garden’s Showcase Part 2 EP. An older version of the latter can be found on this 1979 album, which offers a pleasant balance of his light-hearted and spiritual sides.
The disc starts with the soulful, blue-collar roots piece We Got Love, followed by the more militaristic rhythms of Walls Of Jericho (both songs were issued on a vinyl 10” in the 90s on the sonically erratic Gold imprint). Then we hear Freddie’s respectable interpretation of the legendary Jah Can Count On I by Little Ian Rock (AKA Little Roy), one of the great rare roots tunes to be seen lining Ebay seller’s pockets from time to time. The original was a low-key, super cool swinger, but Niney and Freddie stoke up the heat using warlike drums, wildfire horns, growling guitar and the stirring pre-chorus refrain “Back Weh Evil Spirit!” Having secured his Rasta credentials, Mr McGregor smoothes it out for the ladies with bouncy, breezy pop covers Why Did You Do It and Oh No Not My Baby. The Niney relick of Rastaman Camp is a more plentiful arrangement than the famous Studio 1 version, though none the worse for it, while Do Good is another self-penned track featuring a simple to sing along with list of upfull do’s and don’ts.
As with several previous reissues, 17 North Parade’s mastering is quite loud. They’ve also augmented the original selection with an extension of the Satta rhythm-ed Rasta Have Faith and the addition of seven bonus tracks culled from his Lover’s Rock and Showcase albums. (It’s likely VP decided re-issuing all three LPs in their entirety wasn’t viable economically). There is an audible change of style – mainly a lack of brass – yet Freddie’s voice remains as tender, honest and versatile as before.
Reviewed by Angus Taylor