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Barrington Spence

Spence’s vocal style was frequently compared with that of the Studio One veteran Ken Boothe. In 1975 he recorded ‘Come Back My Darling’, which was an agreeable example of Boothe’s influence on the young singer. His follow-up, ‘Darling Dry Your Eyes’, benefited from the production skills of Prince Tony Robinson, the engineering expertise of a young Errol Thompson and masterful musical backing supplied by Skin Flesh And Bones. While with Robinson, Spence adapted Junior Byles’ masterpiece ‘Curly Locks’ as ‘Let Locks Grow’. The single was slammed by the critics for lacking originality; nevertheless, the song proved extremely popular, gaining international notoriety for the performer. Spence’s versions of Boothe’s ‘The Train Is Coming’ as ‘Train To Rhodesia’, and Byles’ ‘Curly Locks’ as ‘House Of Dreadlocks’, were featured on Big Youth’s Dread Locks Dread. Spence’s sessions with Robinson resulted in Speak Softly, which included the hits along with ‘Jah For All’, ‘Living Just A Little’ and his own composition, ‘Let’s Get It On’. Other singles included ‘For The Rest Of My Life’, ‘Living A Little Laughing A Little’ and ‘Natty Dread Have Wisdom’. The unfair dismissal of Spence as a mere imitator blighted his career and he was unable to fulfil his potential. In 1982 he found success with ‘Falling In Love’ for Larry Lawrence, and while with Derrick Spence, he had a hit with ‘I See A Blackman Cry’. A year later, Spence recorded alongside DJ Joe Sealy for the single ‘You Don’t Have To Dance’, with the New York-based producer Lloyd Barnes.
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