Chantells, The

The Chantells — Tommy Thomas, Lloyd Forrest, and lead singer Sam Bramwell — aren’t exactly the best-known roots harmony trio, but their limited output included 1978’s smash “Waiting in the Park” and a body of respected tunes, mostly romantic odes showcasing their sweet vocals.

Children of Jah doesn’t contain “Waiting in the Park” or perhaps the group’s best song, “How Can I Get Over” (which can be found on the High Note compilation The Reggae Train), but rather it collects tunes they recorded for Roy Francis’ Phase One label. As such, this album is less a Chantells showcase than it is a Phase One showcase (All 10 tracks are Phase One recordings, only 3 coming from The Chantells.

The ball seldom bounced the talented Chantells’ way. Beset with personal problems, the Jamaicans’ laundry list of issues caused what could have been a promising career to end abruptly. The Chantells’ — Samuel Bramwell, Tommy Thomas, and Lloyd Forrester — recording output consists of one album (Waiting in the Park) and a couple of tracks on The Chantells and Friends, a compilation of Roy Francis’ Phase One Records recordings.

1978-1979 was the soulful, sweet singing group’s best times. This was the timeframe they recorded for Phase One where they were easily the label’s most popular artists. The best of their slim output includes: “Man in Love,” “Waiting in the Park” (with Jah Berry), “True Born African,” “Desperate Times,” “Natty Super,” “Children of Jah” (with Hugh Brown), and the lovely “How Can I Get Over.”

Their tribulations were many, but the backbreaker was getting busted smuggling herb on a plane headed for the United Kingdom. The trip was purposeful, they were set up to tour the clubs and meet new contacts all in hopes of advancing their career outside of Jamaica’s boundaries, but it never happened. The tour was canceled as it was hard to gig with members in jail and the Chantells disbanded.

Bramwell made some solo recordings (i.e., “Dread Ina Babylon” on Revolutionary Sounds Records), but all hopes of success ended when Jamaican Police shot him dead in the act of committing an armed robbery.

Members: Samuel Bramwell, Tommy Thomas, and Lloyd Forrester,Sly Dunbar(drums) and Lloyd Parkes(bass.)


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