This originally ran in the St. Louis Post Dispatch in 1993.
Barrington Levy's debut release on MCA records is an
obvious attempt to attract a wider, or more precisely
American, market. This premiere vocalist has radically
altered his reggae style, instead offering an eclectic mix
of tracks far removed from his roots.
It's apparent that major record companies still don't
feel that "real" reggae will sell in America, consequently
they commercialize and change the sounds of these talented
Jamaicans. Even though this latest release once again
displays Levy's captivating vocals, the shift in musical
direction is as drastic as it gets.
Some of the tunes, most notably the latin-tinged "Be
Strong" as well as the ballad "Vice Versa Love," are
exceptional. The power pop of "Survival" and the updates of
"Under Me Sensi" and "Strange" also work. But other tracks,
although nice and catchy, are soft and predictable. And
"Murderer" is a painful rap rendition of one of his all-time
Is the musical turnaround internal or is it more likely
pressure from MCA who have spent considerable amounts on
this gifted singer. Regardless, it's a shame that Levy's
major label debut couldn't have been more dynamic and
focused. With "Barrington," Levy may indeed pick up a
broader audience, but it will surely come at the expense of
his true fans.
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