Entertainment

Maxi Priest returns with Easy to Love

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer howardgcampbell@yahoo.com

Sunday, May 11, 2014    

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NOT many reggae singers can boast having number one songs in Britain, the United States and Jamaica. Maxi Priest belongs to that August group.

Priest is looking for more success when he returns to the fray on June 10 with Easy to Love, his new album, which is distributed by VP Records.

It is the singer's first studio album since 2011's Time of The Year. Priest has enjoyed some pre-release love, with the set's title track getting strong airplay locally.

Easy to Love (the song) is produced by Colin 'Bulby' Yorke. Priest says he heard the 'riddim' through a friend early last year and quickly wrote a song for it.

After 35 years in the business, the dreadlocked Priest says he still has the formula to hit the musical mark.

"From day one it's always been, 'I hope I can make a hit song'. But more importantly, I still love singing and I still love the music," he told the Sunday Observer.

He credits longtime friend Beres Hammond for him recording his first album of original songs in three years.

"The song really did well an' him call mi up an' sey, 'Bwoy Priest, time right fi do a album'."

The latest release from Easy to Love is Gravity, another Yorke production. The song was originally done by John Mayer.

Priest also has great expectations for the Sting International-produced Bubble my Way (with Agent Sasco), and Holiday. The latter is produced by De Red Boyz out of Barbados.

"I'm pleased with the album overall. It's a solid piece of work," he said.

Born in London to Jamaican parents, Maxi Priest has made solid music for most of his career, starting with the Saxon sound system.

He first got on Jamaican airwaves in the mid-1980s with the songs In the Spring Time and Should I which were big hits in British reggae circles.

A decade later, Priest entered the American pop charts regularly, scoring a number one song with Close to You and a platinum album in Bonafide.

He had another number one hit with Set The Night to Music, which he did with R&B superstar Roberta Flack. Housecall, a funky duet with Shabba Ranks that resonated with dancehall and hip hop fans, helped make Priest one of the 1990s' most successful reggae acts.

Easy to Love has 11 tracks, most in the lovers rock vein that made Maxi Priest famous. There has been talk of a revival of that sound which first surfaced in England during the late 1970s.

He disagrees.

"It never went away. When yuh have relationships yuh mus' have lovers rock. So, it can't dead," he said.

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