In the 1960s, America had Berry Gordy (the Motown label) and Phil Spector (Ronettes, Righteous Brothers) as movers, shakers, and shapers of seminal pop music. Meanwhile, Jamaica had Clement Dodd (1931-2004).
Dodd's career spanned ska to rock steady to reggae and had an impact on the early careers of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, the Skatalites, and Burning Spear.
These two discs are culled from the enormous Dodd oeuvre. John Holt and Delroy Wilson (name-checked in the Clash's "White Man in Hammersmith Palais") were smooth, soulful singers of rock steady, a style slower than ska and faster than reggae that was much influenced by American R&B and soul.
A former member of the Paragons, Holt has the sweeter vocal style (think of Al Green and Sam Cooke) and puts a charming island spin on some early-'70s Top 40 Anglo-American hits (George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord," Neil Diamond's "Holly Holy"). The late Wilson had a slightly coarser, more assertive approach, most in evidence on his compassionately rousing version of the Impressions' "People Get Ready."
Both Original Eighteen and I Can't Get You Off My Mind offer much to casual listeners and hardcore fans alike.