Justin Hinds and The Dominoes ‘From Jamaica with Reggae’ CD (Doctor Bird) 4/5

Straddling eras and genres, Justin Hinds (sometime spelled ‘Hines’) is quite simply one of the most important and endearing singers in Jamaican popular music, and belongs to be placed alongside Alton Ellis in the pantheon of vocalists. While this original album collecting songs from the mid-1960’s has been re-issued on countless occasions in vinyl format, this new CD re-issue goes one step further and provides a wider parameter, taking the story of Hinds’ music up into the late 1970’s when he was still plying his trade as a fine practitioner of roots reggae. Hinds was adept at adapting to the times and re-focusing his musical accompaniment for a new audience with the same quality of music and reflective lyrics.

Indeed, even into the mid-1980’s, Justin Hinds was recording superior quality albums for the US indie label Nighthawk and these should be investigated as a matter of urgency. However, the music contained within here serves as a mini and condensed introduction to the singer’s music and as such for the reggae neophyte, this may actually be a better investment than a multi-CD set. Classic ‘riddims’ abound and from the very start with, ‘Carry go bring home’, an essential slice of upbeat ska. Equally strong is, ‘Rub up, push up’, which has graced many a various artists compilation, and is included here as one of the fourteen bonus cuts. What makes this music so distinctive is the quality of the songwriting which invites the listener in. There is attention focused on the less well off and needy, with, educative yearnings on, ‘Teach the youth’, and a strong Baptist underpinning (though never preaching excessively) and thus secular ears need not feel excluded. Far from it. Generous additional tracks include the late 1970’s roots era, with Sky Note label productions such as, ‘Rig-ma-roe game’, and, ‘Wipe your weeping eyes’. Historical overview sleeve notes comes courtesy of respected reggae aficionado and writer, Mike Atherton.

Tim Stenhouse