Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Essential Reggae Albums: Garnett Silk 'It's Growing'

Only one Garnett Silk album was actually cut and released as the artist planned — It's Growing. His projected debut, Love Is the Answer, recorded between 1990 and 1991 for Steely & Clevie, wasn't released until 1994. Nothing Can Divide Us appeared the following year, and compiled songs cut in 1992 for Courtney Cole. Silky Mood, also released posthumously, rounded up numbers cut for the Jammys label, and a myriad of other sets compiled up hits, earlier offerings, and pretty much anything and everything that the singer had recorded. So, It's Growing remains Silk's only "true" album, and a masterpiece it is, as across ten tracks the singer showcases his stunning power on both romantic and cultural numbers. On the gorgeous title track, Silk combines both into a spectacular lovefest. "Move on Slow" finds the singer at his sultriest, and "Come to Me" at his most passionate, while "Commitment" takes him into soulful territory. "Place in Your Heart" is a total charmer, and was a huge Jamaican hit; Silk would recut the song two years later for his projected debut for Atlantic. "Bless Me" was also a smash, a fervent prayer for Jah's intervention, backed by Michael Spense and Jazzwad's jazzy, high-stepping accompaniment. "Keep Them Talking" boasts an equally inspired backing from the Firehouse Crew, a dangerous, thumping riddim that will indeed keep them talking, as Silk puts those who reject Jah firmly in their place. "I Am Vex" was even angrier, and another deserved hit, where the singer ferociously addresses racists, while his righteous anger also fires "Disadvantage." Both these numbers were vehemently backed by Danny Browne, who supplied accompaniment on two other tracks as well. Sly & Robbie and Steely & Clevie also provide phenomenal riddims, with Brian & Tony Gold and Dean Fraser offering excellent vocal support. Bobby "Digital" Dixon's expert production and arrangements makes the whole set sizzle, adding glow to the romantic numbers, and fire to the cultural tracks. Every song within is a classic, the lyrics are strong, all penned by the singer and/or his writing partner Anthony Rochester. It's Growing is the album that established Silk's reputation, and is a continuing reminder of his ferocious talent.