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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

Don Carlos

By Tom Orr
Published April 27, 2007

Live In San Francisco
2b1 Multimedia

Despite being an early and latter-day member of Black Uhuru, it’s his own releases that have made Don Carlos one of reggae’s most distinctive vocalists. His dread appearance and perspective notwithstanding, he doesn’t lay the Rasta patois on too thickly, favoring a slightly gritty crooning style that's served him well on such important albums as Just A Passing Glance and Deeply Concerned. This live set finds him in peak form, backed by a skilled band (including horns) and performing a set of mostly roots and culture material primarily from his own catalog (“Ababa Jon I,” “Zion Train”) but giving a nod to the classic “Satta Amassagana” just as strongly. Serious songs like “Cool Johnny Cool” are delivered with suitable ominousness, while “Holiday” and the closing “Excitement” lighten up the mood. A longer show with more of Carlos’s best songs would have been welcome, but this CD/DVD set is crucial regardless.