Spun: Wayne McGhie and the Sounds of Joy

By Peter Hemminger

Jamaican-cum-Torontonian Wayne McGhie had high hopes when he released the album with The Sounds of Joy back in 1970. Despite a constant presence in what little funk scene there was in Toronto at the time, the album didn’t garner any radio play and sold very little. When a fire burned all the remaining copies in the record label’s warehouse, it seemed the story was over for Wayne McGhie and the Sounds of Joy.

That is, up until 1995 when some enterprising DJs first noticed the sampleability of tracks like “Dirty Funk” and McGhie’s cover of “Na Na Hey Hey.” Suddenly, an album no one had cared about for decades, an album which essentially disappeared as soon as it was released, was being auctioned off for upwards of $600. Now, on the strength of that newfound popularity, Seattle label Light In The Attic has reissued McGhie’s first stab at greatness. And even if it doesn’t necessarily measure up to the crème de la crème of soul, there’s a relaxed atmosphere and smoothness that’s hard to come by in early soul discs. Chalk that up to the Jamaican origins of McGhie and his band–even when pouring their hearts out, they know not to get overworked. Elements of reggae and rocksteady creep into the mix from time to time, further distinguishing it from more familiar soul sounds.

The re-issue features crystal-clear sound and detailed liner notes clearly illustrating the significance of the disc. It’s a piece of Canadian musical history, and for that reason alone it’s worth hearing.

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