Llans Thelwell and His Celestials: Grazin’ In the Grass
This Guy’s In Love With You
Good, Bad and Ugly
From An ETC Holiday at the Colony Hotel (Dynamic, 196?)
Caribbean hotel albums tend to be a thankless lot: poorly recorded, full of “hits” mostly meant to appeal to tourists. It’s like K-Tel LPs but with more palms and steel drums in the photos.
This Llans Thelwell and His Celestials album is an absolute exception to that rule. As it appears on Dynamic (home to many a Jamaican artist, especially Byron Lee), I suspect it was recorded in a legit studio and the production and arrangements are clearly above countless of other hotel-themed releases in the same vein. Straight up, I don’t know if I know of another tourist-aimed LP on this level, especially the overall consistency of quality.
The cover of “Grazin’ in the Grass” isn’t mind-blowing but it’s, well, really well done. Even more so is the cover of “This Guy’s In Love With You” which is a gorgeous slice of island-inflected slow jamming. All that and some groovy rocksteady in the form of “Good, Bad and Ugly”? Makes me wish I had been around in the ’60s to drop by the Colony Hotel and see these guys play live.1
- This same album also includes covers of “Funky Broadway,” “Love Is Blue” and what I think is an original rocksteady cut, “Colony Special.” ↩
It really should not be a surprise that a Caribbean hotel album share a label with Byron Lee. Lee’s band was really just a glorified hotel band that did tame uptown versions of whatever was popular around Kingston.