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Reggae Max

[B]Clifford Smith[/B] was a sweet soul singer turning out cover versions of [B]'Killing Me Softly'[/B] and [B]'Last Night'[/B] in his native Jamaica, until a squabble over a DAT tape saw his jaw shatt

Reggae Max

6 / 10 Clifford Smith was a sweet soul singer turning out cover versions of 'Killing Me Softly' and 'Last Night' in his native Jamaica, until a squabble over a DAT tape saw his jaw shattered by an iron bar. Physically prohibited from singing in his previous angelic style, Smith adopted the monicker Mr Vegas and a raw, growling ragga style, and was an instant success on the dancehall scene.



Crucially, however, Vegas avoids the sexist rhyming many consider inevitable from hardcore ragga; his previous album, 'Heads High', featured pro-feminist track 'Hit Him Back', though those seeking a truly PC toaster should skip past 'Stop Man Food''s copious reference to[I] "Batty boys"[/I].



But it is not for his politics that we should laud Vegas. Anyone whose musical antennae are tuned beyond Guitarsville can't help but have been captivated by Vegas' recent hits, the addictive 'Yu Sure' (built around a snatch from Simon & Garfunkel's 'Mrs Robinson') and the ringing 'Frontier' (featuring a sneaky sample of Harold Faltermeyer's 'Axel F').



If these tracks already have a place in your heart, then you'll adore 'Reggae Max', not least because every song sounds similar to the one preceding it. While inspired in short bursts, Vegas is perhaps a little gruelling, a little same-y, over this LP's 55 or so minutes. But tracks like 'Go Go' and the excellent 'Drunken Wispy' drag you back to their irresistible lilts again and again.



A tad overlong, then, but not without considerable charm.

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