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Reggae - Released January 1, 2004 | Trojan Records

A reluctant pop star if ever there was one, Phyllis Dillon balanced a recording career in Jamaica with a job in the U.S. working in a bank. Love Is All I Had is the most comprehensive collection of her work to date, packed to the brim with a staggering 29 cuts of vintage rocksteady and early reggae, all cut with Duke Reid for his Treasure Isle imprint. The earliest songs from Love Is All I Had date from 1967 (with the exception of Dillon's 1966 self-penned debut, "Don't Stay Away"), and exude an innocence common in the best sides from the Shirelles, Lesley Gore, and exponents of the girl group sound. Dillon's cover of Bettye Swann's "Make Me Yours" is such a song, while her original "It's Rocking Time" would help to define the rocksteady era itself. Although she will always be associated with rocksteady, Dillon recorded some great reggae as well. While her take on the Grass Roots' "Midnight Confessions" and role-reversing cover of Eric Donaldson's "Cherry Oh Baby" as "Eddie Oh Baby" haven't aged too well, her pulsing cover of Marlena Shaw's "Woman of the Ghetto" remains a dancefloor classic. No matter what she's singing, though, it's hard not to fall in love with her voice, making even touristy cuts like the randy "Don't Touch Me Tomato" worth hearing. © Wade Kergan /TiVo
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Reggae - Released January 1, 1972 | Trojan Records

Despite her international popularity, Jamaican singer Phyllis Dillon, commonly acknowledged as the queen of rocksteady, only recorded one proper studio album, and it was released around the time she gave up her musical career near the beginning of the 1970s, due to typical music industry woes and her desire to spend more time with her family. One Life to Live is a sterling collection of rocksteady and early reggae, showcasing Dillon's effortlessly gorgeous voice delivering a well-chosen set of songs themed around affection, heartache, and dancing. Dillon and her backing band, with Duke Reid in the producer's chair, offer a Jamaican spin on several American and British pop, rock, and soul tunes, ranging from a heavy reggae-funk take on Marlena Shaw's "Woman of the Ghetto" to a fantastically dreamy rendition of the Beatles' "Something," which might be the song's best version, period. Dillon was a master of expressing emotional longing in a smooth, easygoing manner, relaying vulnerable, heartfelt lyrics in a sweet, soulful way. "I Can't Forget About You Baby" and "Picture on the Wall" both express a strong desire to forget an ex-lover, but they appear to be pleasantly swaying reggae-soul on the surface. "You Are Like Heaven to Me," written by Dillon herself, is directed at an ex-lover she can't fall out of love with, despite the fact that he broke her heart. Even the most triumphant, celebratory songs, such as the festive, Bob Marley-penned "Long Time No Nice Time," have an undercurrent of bittersweet nostalgia. A few other, more definitive collections of Dillon's work have been released, but not all of these songs appeared on them, so this album is equally necessary for fans as well as a fitting introduction for newcomers. Either way, this is beautiful, timeless music. © Paul Simpson /TiVo
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World - Released June 12, 2006 | Charly Records

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Reggae - Released June 27, 2011 | Treasure Isle Records