Cynthia Schloss

Band members                             Related acts

- Cynthia Schloss (RIP 1999) -- vocals


  supporting musicians: (1976)

- Val Douglas -- bass 

- Cedric Brooks -- brass 

- Jackie Willacy -- brass 

- Jerome Francisque -- brass 

- Tommy McCook -- brass 

- Denis Schloss -- congas 

- Noel Seale -- congas 

-  Michael Richards -- drums 

-  Harold Butler -- keyboards, strings, Electric Piano 

- Mikey Chung (aka Michael Chong) - guitar

- Tyrone "Organ D" Downie -- keyboards 

- Earl Lindo -- keyboards

- Robert Lyn -- keyboards

- Michael Murray -- guitar 

- James Vivino  -- synthesizers

- Marcia Griffiths -- backing vocals 

- Merlyn Brooks -- backing vocals

- Pamela Hall -- backing vocals




- none known





Genre: reggae

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Golden Dozen

Company: TSG

Catalog: TSG-808

Country/State: Jamaica

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 270

Price: $300.00


Best time to play:  Sunny Saturday afternoon with a couple of cocktails

Found this one at a yard sale and bought it for one reason - I recognized the TSG label as a collectable tax scam label (an offshoot of Lloyd Prices' LPG label).  Honestly, namesake Cynthia Schloss was a total unknown to me when I picked it up and the generic cover art didn't give you a clue as to what to expect musically.  A quick internet search turned up the following short biography:


Veteran female singer, Cynthia Schloss, is generally referred to as Jamaica’s songbird. She was thet third of six children and attended the Trench Town Elementary and Ardenne High School. Schloss got her big break at the Merritone Amateur Talent Exposure in 1971, where she won the finals singing 'First Time Ever I Saw Your Face'. She then became a regular at shows and on the hotel circuit. Later, she ventured into recordings and made a memorable impact with songs such as 'Surround Me with Love', 'As If I Didn’t Know', 'You Look like Love' and 'Love Me Forever 'which sold over 100,000 copies. Schloss died in the arms of her husband and veteran musician, Winston ‘Merritone’ Blake, on February 25, 1999  (source - National Library of Jamaica)


Released on the TSG tax scam label,1976's "Golden Dozen" was a reissue of Cynthia Schloss' Jamaican "Ready & Willing" album.  The original LP was released on husband/producer Winston "Marritone" Blake's Merritone label (Merritone catalog MM-0001).   I spite of the title, I guess nobody noticed there were only ten songs on the album.  Judging by the performances, both sets were compilations  pulling together earlier singles with a couple of newer studio sides.  Listening to these tunes it was clear Schloss had a great voice - powerful, but highly commercial.  At her best she managed to effortlessly blend reggae and classic soul moves - check out her cover of Bob Marley's 'Guava Jam', 'Red Rose' and 'There's a Fire.'   At the other end of the spectrum husband/producer Blake wasted her talents on throwaway disco material like the dreadful 'Rhythm of the Blues' and the lightweight dance number 'Hurry To Me.'  To be honest the collection was simply too erratic to be called a great LP, but makes it easy to see why Schloss was popular throughout Jamaica.  


Almost certainly to avoid paying royalties, the TSG label slapped the package with new anonymous cover art and flipped the running order of songs.  It seems unlikely Schloss or her management team even knew this album existed.


Only 51, Schloss died of heart complications, in February 1999.


"Golden Dozen" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Red Rose   (B.B. Seaton - Joe Meeks) - 2:30   rating: **** stars

Initially I couldn't figure of why the writing credits included Joe Meeks and then it dawned on me that 'Red Rose' was basically just a remake of Meek's 'Telstar' instrumental with throwaway lyrics and a slinky reggae beat.  You wouldn't think the result would be any great shakes, but I've got to tell you Schloss brought the goods on this one.   Her voice was just so attractive.   In 1980 the track was released as a Jamaican single:






- 1980's 'Red Rose' b/w 'Red Rose (Symphony) (Merritone catalog number MM 0004)







2.) There's a Fire   (B.B. Seaton) - 2:28  rating: *** stars.

So the late B.B. Seaton (aka Harris Lee Seaton) wrote 'There's a Fire.'  The Gaylads originally recorded it in 1969 for the small Jamaican Beverly label ('There's a Fire' b/w Last Time'' (Beverly catalog number S.R. 089)).  The 45 was then released in the UK by Trojan Records (catalog number TR 7703 A/B).  Seaton himself released a version in 1976 ('There's a Fire' b/w 'Bub of Seaton' Jama catalog number JA 31) which may have been the inspiration for Schloss' cover.  While I've always loved The Gaylads cover, I'll tell you that Schloss turned in a playful cover, complete with fire truck sound effects.  While her version was built on a reggae rhythm her vocals reflected a soul edge.  She's always reminded me of Carolyn Franklin on this one. This was also released as a Schloss single:





- 1975's 'There's a Fire' b/w 'I Won't Cry' (Merritone catalog number MMF-100)  







3.) Winstona B  (Calvin Boze) - 3:32   rating: *** stars

Written by American jazz trumpeter Calvin Boze, I always thought 'Winstons B' was recorded for Schloss' husband Winston Blake ...  Shame it was one of the less inspired tunes.  Not really reggae, not really soul, it actually sounded like something out of a Broadway show, though the song's catchy refrain and cutesy side grew on you after awhile.  I'd love to know what it was actually about.  The song appeared as the "B" side on her 1975 'I Won't Cry' single.

4.) Guava Jelly   (Bob Marely aka Bob Marley) - 2:35   rating: **** stars

Miscredited to Bob "Marely", the classic 'Guava Jelly' was given an upbeat soul-tinged flavor that was surprisingly effective.   Yeah, I'd still rather hear Marley's origiinal, but this one came in a close second.  Hard to sit still hearing this one.

5.) Rhythm of the Blues   (L. Patrick) - 2:35    rating: ** stars

Probably my least favorite performance, 'Rhythm of the Blues' found Schloss surrounded by an anonymous and completely forgettable disco arrangement.   Dull, plodding, and totally forgettable, the song also had a bizarre, flat sound as if Schloss' vocal had been added from a long distance phone line.   


(side 2)
1.) Love Forever   (Harold Butler) - 4:51   rating: *** stars

Geez, if you could get through the painful 'humming' introduction, 'Love Forever' turned into an enjoyable if rather conventional soul ballad that was marred by slightly flat production work.  The melody was breezy and the refrain sheer ear candy.  This one must have been recorded fairly early in her career, or as part of her hotel circuit repertoire, as there was no hint of reggae in the tune.  It was another Schloss single:





- 1976's 'Love Forever' b/w 'Love Forever Theme' (Merritone catalog number MM 001)








2.) Nightfall  (L. Atirken) - 3:35     rating: ** stars

The breezy 'Nightfall' was another soul influence track.   Very laidback and enjoyable, but a tad on the MOR lounge act side and the cheesy synthesizers will make you giggle. 

3.) I Won't Cry   (Bill Labostrie - Joe Ruffino) - 2:45   rating: **** stars

I Won't Cry' has been covered by dozens of acts including a classic late-'50s interpretation by Johnny Adams.  Schloss' version was interesting for having a serious Motown feel.  There's simply no way you would have ever pegged her as being Jamaican and if it wasn't for the cheesy synthesizer washes, this could easily have been mistaken for a '60s track.  It was also released as another Schloss single:


- 1975's 'I Won't Cry' b/w 'WIntona B'  (Merritone catalog number MM 003)

4.) Hurry To Me   (Winston Blake - Cynthia Schloss) - 3:02  rating: ** stars

The sole original (co-written with husband Blake), 'Hurry To Me' was a throwaway dance track.  With a lightweight reggae-tinged melody and some extremely '70s synthesizers, this one was pretty forgettable.

5.) Words (Are Impossible)   (Dan Jansen - Bob Hart) - 4:02  rating: **** stars

Closing out the LP, 'Words Are Impossible' was the song that came the closest to successfully blending American soul and reggae influences.  Again, you had to sit through some dreadful humming before the tune actually kicked into gear, but in this case it was worth the wait.  A sweet, breezy ballad, this one had everything necessary for commercial success.  In fact Merritone released it as another Schloss single.  The flip side was a non-Schloss track by Jam Now Gen.





- 1975's 'Words ( Are Impossible)' b/w 'Bad Word' (Merritone catalog number - none)






In case anyone's interested, the original "Ready & Willing" track order was:


"Ready & Willing" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Love Forever   (H. Butler) - 4:51

2.) Nightfall  (L. Atirken) - 3:35

3.) I Won't Cry   (Labostrie - Ruffino) - 2:45

4) Hurry To Me   (Winston Blake - Cynthia Schloss) - 3:02

5) Words Are Impossible   (Jansen - Hart) - 4:02


(side 2)

1.) Red Rose   (B.B. Seaton - Joe Meeks) - 2:30

2.) There's a Fire   (B.B. Seaton) - 2:28

3.) Winston B  (C. Boze) - 3:32

4.) Guava Jelly   (Bob Marely aka Bob Marley) - 2:35

5.) Rhythm of the Blues   (L. Patrick) - 2:35