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Eddy Grant - The Very Best Of

The Very Best of Eddy Grant

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

EDDY Grant remains best known for his ’80s hits I Don’t Wanna Dance and Electric Avenue but that’s only a small part of the story.

Born in Guyana, Grant emigrated with his parents to London as a boy and soon began making music. He first hit No.1 in the UK and Europe with Baby Come Back with The Equals in 1966. The multi-racial group had plenty more hits but after a serious illness he left the band, returned to Guyana to recuperate and launched his hugely successful solo career.

A true perfectionist, he played every instrument, sang every vocal and produced every track on most of his solo albums.

As his solo career took off, Grant moved to Barbados and set up the Blue Wave studio. He continued to release tracks by classic calypso and soca artists on his label Ice Records, as well as ‘Ringbang’ a genre of Caribbean music he created.

New album The Very Best Of Eddy Grant – aka The Road To Preparation – is being released to coincide with the artist’s first major UK tour for years (which included appearances at the Nelson Mandela Birthday concert and Glastonbury, as well as the forthcoming Wireless Festival in London).

It encompasses everything from those best known hits, I Don’t Wanna Dance, which hit the UK number one spot in 1982, and the seminal Electric Avenue, as well as some of his more politically-charged offerings, such as Gimme Hope Jo’hanna, which gave Grant a hit in 1988 and which was a very thinly veiled attack on the Apartheid regime in South Africa [Jo’hanna being short for ‘Johannesburg’].

In fact, evidence of the power and enduring legacy of Grant’s music is that his songs – once recorded – continue to influence. Johanna, for instance, has been heavily rotated on radio in protest in Zimbabwe of late, while The Clash previously featured a cover of Police On My Back for their Sandinista triple-set.

This best of compilation is therefore a great opportunity for some shameless nostalgia (Electric Avenue, for instance, still sounds great fun to jam along to), as well as affording listeners some insights into lesser known hits.

Worth keeping an ear out for are War Party, which is every bit as politically hard-hitting as Jo’anna, the calypso-laden Hello Africa, which contains some great percussion, Say I Love You, for its reggae-tinged romanticism and the cheesy ’80s pop of Dance Party.

It may not be the most hip album you’ll buy this year, but Grant’s music has a guilty pleasure about it that’s perfectly capable of leaving a smile on your face.

Download picks: Electric Avenue, I Don’t Wanna Dance, Baby Come Back, Hello Africa, Gimme Home Jo’Anna, Dance Party, War Party

Track listing:

  1. Gimme Hope Jo’anna
  2. I Don’t Wanna Dance
  3. Electric Avenue
  4. Walking On Sunshine
  5. Living On The Frontline
  6. Do You Feel My Love
  7. War Party
  8. Till I Can’t Take Love No More
  9. Boys In The Street
  10. Baby Come Back
  11. Romancing The Stone
  12. Hello Africa
  13. Neighbour Neighbour
  14. Say I Love You
  15. California Style
  16. Dance Party
  17. East Dry River
  18. Gotta Be Positive