Music » Livewire

The Mighty Diamonds

With Dub Flex. Friday, February 23, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Together since 1969, the Mighty Diamonds -- Bunny, Tabby, and Judge -- have traditionally eschewed the rough-and-tumble trends of Jamaican dancehall, focusing instead on sweet harmonies reminiscent of the soft Philly Soul of the Delfonics and O'Jays. Their honeyed vocals stand at odds with their militant lyrics on such cuts as "Back Weh Mafia." But ironically, it was the Mighty Diamonds more than any other Jamaican group who in the mid-'70s popularized recycling and updating old rocksteady hits from the previous decade -- a practice that would later help define dancehall.

The Diamonds' early singles, like "Right Time" and "I Need a Roof," were propelled by the mighty Revolutionaries (featuring drum & bass masters Sly and Robbie), who created the perfect dichotomy: seriously dread instrumentation backing up those soulful harmonies.

The trio's latest release, Thugs in the Streets, is its most varied effort to date, blending elements of soca, hip-hop, and, yes, even dancehall with the Diamonds' trademark vocals.

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