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Posted by The man 
The man
March 31, 2006 01:40AM
The Kingstonians
(Attack ATLP114)

The Kingstonians were one among scores of vocal groups who flourished in Jamaican music during the latter '60s and throughout the '70s, but whose day now sadly seems to have passed. Distinguished in their own case by the hoarse, tugging phrasing of lead singer Jackie Bernard, 'Sufferer' for producer Derrick Harriott in 1970 was the group's sole album release, and this Attack reissue after 21 years signals its coming of age in more ways than one.

Though in common with much of reggae The Kingstonians' best work is to be found scattered on fugitive singles, 'Sufferer' nevertheless caught the group at their peak of popularity. Thje album marks a transitory stage in the music's development and the clipping beat which The Kingstonians ride here was shortly to transmute into the more sonorous roots sound, with the title track here pointing the way forward: a definitive paean to the world's dispossessed.

The album also includes their mildly risque but hugely celebrated 'Winey Winey' with its impenetrable rumbling backline, as well as the original version of what is probably their best-known recording 'Singer Man'. A faithful recreation of the song by UB40 on last year's 'Labour Of Love II' LP was one of the highlights of that set and introduced the title to a whole new generation and audience, but Bernard's aching vocal treatment here gives this version the edge.

And in the present era of roughneck ragga, music like this is water to a thirsty man.

Penny Reel
Originally published in Select 1991
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