Delroy Wilson - Dubplate Style
Release dateAugust 2009
Rich and golden as a ginger cake, the late Delroy Wilson’s expressive, moving voice made him a lifelong favourite among Jamaican audiences. The island’s first child star, signing with Coxsone at the age of just 13, he created a gap in the market that would kick-start the career of Dennis Brown. Despite this, his appeal has never translated into the wider circles of popular music in the manner of some of his contemporaries. And this loving reissue of his long lost Prince Jammy mixed vocal-meets-dub album 20 Golden Greats – though of grail-like import to certain collectors - is unlikely to change that.
Jammy crafts a series of soothing restrained dub remixes, creating the effect of hearing Delroy in situ on a sound. Accentuated guitars and snare drums blossom and wither over chugging organs while Wilson drips in like hot fudge, filling all the right spaces. Every rhythm is in a major key (Delroy could sound bombastic on sadder roots backings) and these include covers (I’m Still Waiting, Can I Change My Mind), love songs and cultural themes. The sound quality – direct from the original master tapes – is good for a cd reissue. There are, however, audible blemishes on two of the tracks: the Lee Perry penned Prince Buster rebuke Joe Lieges and the wonderful uplifting Ms Grace.
This release has caused quite a lot of excitement in reggae’s online communities and is undoubtedly better suited to the sound system dance attendee or soulful reggae lover than the newcomer. The subtle mixes, simple country-soul feel to the songwriting and absence of roots reggae’s more egregious elements may not make sense to someone less than totally immersed in the music. It is also of historical interest as a precursor to both remix albums and the pre-recorded sound system mix cds of today. But beyond its rarity and importance this is an album of great beauty, that, mood permitting, you will want to come back to again and again.
Reviewed by Angus Taylor