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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

THE ROYALS

By Judson Kilpatrick
Published April 26, 2006

Pick Up The Pieces
Pressure Sounds

With an ever-shifting line-up whose only constant member was writer/arranger/producer Roy Cousins, the Royals are among the very least known of the many reggae harmony groups that emerged in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Patterning themselves, in part, after the Temptations (they even called themselves the Tempests for a while), Cousins and his crew hit a seemingly unending series of career setbacks that have been painstakingly detailed in the accompanying liner notes. It was not for a lack of trying or talent, for the Royals recorded at many of Jamaica’s most important studios, and their best songs stand up to just about anything else from that period. There is, as with most recordings from that time, a certain roughness and distortion in the sound, lending the songs a sort of “authenticity” which many listeners have come to treasure in these digital times. This entire collection is enjoyable and several cuts, like the infectiously melodic “Down Comes The Rain” and the almost-famous title track, are true classics.