Frankie Paul Should I reggae music CD album mp3
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Should I (Heartbeat, 1991)

One of the most enduring and prolific artists in dancehall, Frankie Paul has recorded over 100 albums since the early 1980s, earning him comparisons to the great Stevie Wonder (although admittedly the main similarity is the fact that they're both blind -- and even then, Paul has re-gained some eyesight through surgery).  He's more of a "singer's singer" than fellow dancehall pioneers Half Pint, Sugar Minott, and Barrington Levy.  He has a vaguely raspy, soulful voice similar to a old-time rhythm 'n blues singer, though he has a tendency to over-emote, yelling instead of singing.  Although Paul himself is a renowned artist, his songs seem to be somewhat less well-known.  The ganja anthem "Pass the Ku-Sheng-Peng" is probably his most famous tune, but nothing among the generic dancehall rhythms and ho-hum melodies on Should I (the title track being a remake of the Dennis Brown classic) come close to that cut.  Sadly, from what I've heard, the overall quality of his output is closer to that on this album than his popularity would imply (I call this the Pato Banton syndrome).  With the barrage of Frankie Paul releases over the past 20-plus years, it's inevitable that a good portion of them would be weak (I call this the Sizzla syndrome), and this album has to be one of the weakest.  Should I?  No, you shouldn't.

Track Listing
1. Should I?
2. Desert Eagle Talk
3. Slurt Me a Spurt
4. This Thing Is Love
5. Riding Riding
6. One Night of Loving
7. I Miss You Much
8. Round & Round
9. Watching You Watching Me
10. Stress All Over the World
11. Take My Breath Away
12. Ain't Nothing in This World
Should I
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Frankie Paul Don Man reggae music CD album mp3
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Don Man (Heartbeat, 1993)

Sanchez has been criticized for his propensity for filling his albums with cover songs, but Frankie Paul certainly is no stranger to the remake, having covered Dennis Brown's "Should I" on the album of the same name, along with R&B selections from Guy, Surface, and After 7.  On Don Man, he goes even further, with no less than 7 of the 12 tracks being remakes.  As with  Sanchez, these tunes are hit (R. Kelly's "Sexy Thing (You Got the Body)" and "How I Care for You," a swaying version of Surface's "Closer Than Friends") or miss (the almost unrecognizable version of Guy's "Let's Stay Together," and frankly, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to know that no one should ever do a reggae remake of Boyz II Men's "End of the Road").  Luckily, there are several strong original tracks to be found, headed by the rocking jams "Ram Dance Hall" and "Row the Boat," and one of the few message tunes here, "Recession."  Note: some of the songs on Don Man are also on the Heartbeat compilation Urban Beat Reggae: "Sexy Thing" and the R&B remix of Glenn Jones' ballad "Here I Go Again" (which actually improves upon his reggae version [a remix of a remake?], as the song doesn't really adapt well to a reggae riddim), and the painfully overwrought "It Feels So Real." 

Track Listing
1. Ram Dance Hall
2, How I Care for You
3. All Out of My Mind
4. Sexy Thing (You Got the Body)
5. End of the Road
6. You Remind Me
7. Row the Boat
8. It Feels So Real
9. Recession
10. Here I Go Again
11. Let's Stay Together
12. Here I Go Again [Underground Soul Vibe]
Don Man
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Frankie Paul A We Rule reggae music CD album mp3
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A We Rule (RAS, 1997)

RAS's liner notes have always been frustratingly skimpy (for years, you'd unfold the insert just to find an order form for their catalog), and A We Rule is no exception. The back cover merely explains that "These classic Frankie Paul tracks were recorded in the 1980s as Frankie was becoming Jamaica's top-rated vocalist. Now available for the first time on CD, there is a freshness that all reggae lovers can enjoy." How "classic" these tracks are is debatable, but at least it lets us know that the songs were produced by pioneering DJ Prince Jazzbo, who adapts to the mid-'80s digital landscape quite well. He injects a dubby goodness into these early dancehall tunes, particularly on the album's two highlights, "A We Rule" and the bubbly, digi-rootsy "Stick a Sensi." Paul's voice is in top form, hitting sweet, soulful highs and guttural, bluesy lows; it's easy to see how he became such a star. He has both the easygoing likeability of a Dennis Brown and the edge of a Barrington Levy. There's an informal "scattish" manner to his vocals, as he throws in seemingly improvised hooks from other songs, like "The Banana Boat Song" (on "Rub a Dub Market"), "The Drifter" (on "Rastafari Winner"), "Ring the Alarm" (on "Call the Brigade"), and even the fairly obscure R&B number "So You Like What You See" (on "Give Me Time"). While this doesn't necessarily make these songs great, there's an added familiarity that draws you in. Still, though, A We Rule is too bogged down by generic dancehall numbers like "Run Off Him Mouth," "Give Me Time," and "Touch Me All Over" to have much impact. Later the same year that this album was released, RAS included "A We Rule," "Stick a Sensi," and "Rub a Dub Market" on their RAS Portraits release for Frankie Paul, thus removing much of the value from this set of tunes "available for the first time on CD." Only "Rastafari Winner" and maybe "We a Don" remain as exclusives to A We Rule that are worth checking out.

Track Listing
1. A We Rule
2. Rub a Dub Market
3. Run Off Him Mouth
4. Free Jah Children
5. Rastafari Winner with Prince Jazzbo
6. Stick a Sensi
7. Give Me Time
8. Touch Me All Over
9. Missing You
10. Agony
11. Call the Brigade
12. Shine On
13. We a Don
A We Rule
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