Johnny Osbourne – Right Right Time
Johnny Osbourne, undeniably, stands out as one of the most well-known and beloved Jamaican reggae and dancehall singers. He received his education at the Alpha Boys School in Kingston, and emerged on the reggae scene in 1967 as the lead vocalist of The Wildcats. During that time, he recorded his first single, All I Have Is Love, in a session at Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One. Supported by The Sensations, he recorded the album Come Back Darling in 1969, produced by Winston Riley. Osbourne then migrated to Canada to join his family, where he assumed the role of lead vocalist for Ishan People and contributed vocals to two albums. After the band’s dissolution in 1979, he decided to return to Jamaica, where he recorded his stunning album, Truths And Rights, for the Studio One label. From then on, Osbourne regularly released albums and hit singles throughout the 1980s and in the early 1990s. His latest album, World In A Crisis, was released in 2018, eighteen years after his 2000 released First Choice album.
It’s been about five years since Johnny Osbourne released World In A Crisis and now he has returned with a brand new 10-track collection, which is produced by Baco Records in partnership with French musician Guillaume “Stepper” Briard and co-producer Maël “Loeiz” Danion. The latter, who is known for his work with the Taxi Gang, and Osbourne have established a friendship through shared experiences. Stepper presented Osbourne with some demos which caught the interest of the reggae icon. And thus, they decided to collaborate with the talented musicians of the French Connection Band to create a brand new album featuring a mix of original tracks and revamped Johnny Osbourne classics. So, let’s dig into this 10-track set of which expectations are high.
Before playing the brand new tunes, let’s first check the revamped tracks which are known so well in their original form. History has learnt that in most cases, remakes of a classic tune fail to match or even outmatch the original. Comparing the new rendition of Kiss Somebody to the 1980 original produced by Linval Thompson & Mickie “Roots” Scott, it’s clear that vocally, there’s nothing to fault. However, the riddim played by the mighty Roots Radics, particularly the exceptional playing of Style Scott on drums, makes a significant difference. Additionally, the fact that the original was mixed by Scientist adds to its superiority over the newer version. Yet, while the original remains the preferred choice, it’s worth noting that the revamped Kiss Somebody still has merit and is worth listening to. Additionally, there is the delightful lovers piece Angel In My Arms. Produced by Prince Jammy, Starlight Records first released it on 12″ vinyl in the UK in 1981. The original riddim is laid by Sly & Robbie’s Taxi Gang and features a choppy piano with a thick bass. The inclusion of horns enhances the overall charm and elevates the new version to a higher level. In Your Eyes is another love song, which was recorded at Channel One with the Roots Radics and mixed by Scientist. Produced by Henry “Junjo” Lawes, the song was first issued on 1982’s Never Stop Fighting LP. And once again it’s the beautiful sounding horn section that does the trick on the revamped version. Just like Angel In My Arms, this is simply a beautiful track worth hearing more than once. The roots piece Right Time is probably the least known of the reworked classics. Johnny Osbourne recorded the Jerry Brown-produced tune, Right, Right Time, accompanied by the band Earth, Roots & Water while living in Toronto. It was released on 7″ vinyl by Summer Records in the mid-’70s. It’s an incredible tune with killer vibes that has been reworked in a fully satisfactory way to make it truly unforgettable.
As far as we know, the remaining six tracks of this album are fresh originals. “The World Is Getting Strange,” Johnny Osbourne declares on the album opener, creating an immediate impact and leaving the listener awestruck after about five minutes of playtime. Strange is downright magical and an impressive opener to say the least. Despite its serious message, the nice next track, Trust No One, has a joyful sound. Peace & Love conveys a message of harmony and affection, which is a danceable track as it is backed by a jump up riddim. Throughout his ten-year stint in Canada, Johnny Osbourne also lent his vocal talents to various soul groups. With Get Up he proves his ability to excel in soul music. However, the track’s appeal to reggae enthusiasts is uncertain. Remain It No Nice and the collsb with Lone Ranger called Oh My Jah Jah. Both tracks aren’t really exceptional or huge efforts. They are just nice to listen to, but that’s about it.