Cornel Campbell – Minstrel Classic Reggae 1972-1977

“Although no Jamaican singer possesses a smoother, more sensual high tenor voice than Cornel Campbell, he has somehow managed to escape the attention of all but the most dedicated reggae fans, which is a shame, since he brings a Sam Cooke-like elegance to the table. A former member of both the Uniques and the Eternals, Campbell’s solo work (the best of which was produced by Bunny Lee) falls into two distinct camps, his gorgeous and assured love songs and his mid- to late-’70s switch to a harder, more militant sound, a switch that yielded some big hits (‘The Gorgon,’ ‘Natty Dread in a Greenwich Town’) but didn’t necessarily play to his real strength. This collection from West Side Records wisely centers on his romantic material, and it includes his solo remakes of two Eternals’ hits, ‘Queen of the Minstrel’ (here simply called ‘The Minstrel’), itself a version of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Minstrel & Queen,’ and the effortlessly beautiful ‘Stars,’ as well as confident covers of Nina Simone’s ‘My Baby Just Cares for Me’ and another Mayfield song, ‘Talking About My Baby.’ Campbell sings like an angel, and his smooth, assured tone is breathtaking, recalling, at times, his singing partner in the Uniques, Slim Smith, although without Smith’s fragile, wounded persona. Minstrel makes the perfect compliment to Blood & Fire’s I Shall Not Remove, which collects the heavier, more militant material, and the two discs together make a complete and rounded portrait of this brilliant singer, who truly deserves a wider audience.”

YouTube: The Minstrel, My Confession, My Baby Just Cares for Me, Stars, Talking About My Baby


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