Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1977)

- Ned Albright -- vocals, keyboards, guitar, percussion

- Tali Jackson -- drums, percussion

- David Kapell -- bass, keyboards, percussion, backing vocals

- J. Steven Soles -- vocals, guitar. keyboards, percussion



The Alpha Band (Steven Soles)

- Live Wires (Ned Albright)

- Steven Soles (solo efforts)





Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Greetings from Jamaica

Company: Family

Catalog: FPS 2714

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: small cut out notch on edge

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6147

Price: $25.00


Here's one I bought for the record label - Artie Ripp's Family Records.  I've never figured out the details, but exemplified by the band Tidbits, Family had some sort of relationship with Morris Levy's infamous tax scam Tiger Lily label.  


back cover photo: left to right: 

Soles - Jackson - Albright - Denzil Laing - Carlton Lee - Kapell - Arthur Gorson


The front man for this short-lived outfit was singer/guitarist J. Steve Soles.  Soles had been a member of Jeff Barry's stable of mi-'70s songwriters working with a broad array of acts ranging from The Archies to Dusty Springfield.  He and keyboard player Ned Albright had previously placed a pair of songs on The Monkees' final studio album - 1970's "Changes".   


1972's "Greetings from Jamaica" found Soles and Albright fronting a true band showcasing the talents of drummer Tali Jackson, and bass player David Kapell.  Self-produced, the album was interesting if for no other reason than Soles and company were groundbreakers, being one of the first American bands I know of to record an album in Jamaica (Kingston's Dynamic Sound Studios).  The funny thing is even though the recorded the album with Carlton Lee engineering and help from various local musicians, with the exceptions of 'My Friend Maude' and 'Jamaican Sunset' reggae influences were far and few between.   So if there wasn't much reggae, what was on this one?  Well, the answer was a relative straightforward and quite impressive collection of English inspired pop and rock material.  Largely penned by Soles and Albright (Soles then-wife/actress P.J. Soles co-wrote two tracks), selections such as 'Carol' and 'It's a Come On' were full of Badfinger, Emitt Rhodes, and Paul McCartney influences.  I'm simply a pushover for this kind of stuff.   An unknown album that isn't perfect, but I still managed to enjoy every time I play it and you can still find affordable copies ...


"Greetings from Jamaica" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Be My Good Day   (J. Steven Soles - Ned Albright) -     rating: *** stars

'Be My Good Day' opened the album with a New Orleans-flavored pop number.  With a good-timey, upbeat shuffle feel and some surprisingly subtle horn charts, this one was surprisingly enjoyable.  It actually sounded like something Paul McCartney would have written for "Venus and Mars".

2.) All Alone In New York City   (J. Steven Soles - Ned Albright) -    rating: **** stars

Kicked along by some barrelhouse piano, 'All Alone In New York City' has always reminded me of Emmitt Rhodes.  A wonderful slice of Beatlesque pop, this one had immense top-40 potential.    

3.) Carol   (J. Steven Soles - Ned Albright - M. Soles) -     rating: *** stars

Sporting a gorgeous melody, 'Carol' was a highly commercial ballad.  I've listed to the song dozens of times and every time I hear it Soles nasal voice reminds me of another song - problem is I've never been able to pen it down.  One of these days ...  

4.) It's a Come On   (J. Steven Soles - Ned Albright) -    rating: **** stars

Every time I hear 'It's a Come On' I m reminded of Paul McCartney and Wings 'Sally G'.  Like that song, this one shares the same eclectic mix of hard edged pop and country influences.  Simply irresistible to my ears.   

5.) 2000 Horsemen   (J. Steven Soles - Ned Albright) -    rating: **** stars

Side's one's toughest rocker, '2000 Horsemen' still managed to retained a pop-edge, as well as one of the album's best guitar solos.  Hard to believe this one wasn't a hit.    


(side 2)
1.) My Friend Maude   (J. Steven Soles - G.A. Peret) -    rating: ** stars

Side two finally saw the band introducing a reggae rhythm to the proceedings.   Yeah, Soles Jamaican accent was pretty lame, but the song itself wasn't half bad.  Catchy, but disposable.  

2.) Good Love Is Hard To Find   (Ned Albright) -   rating: ** stars

Penned by Albright, 'Good Love Is Hard To Find' sported a good time country feel.  Catchy, but it didn't strike a chord with me.  That didn't stop Family from tapping it as a single:

- 1973's 'Good Love Is Hard To Find' b/w '???' (Family catalog number FP 9022)   

3.) Don't Blame Me   (J. Steven Soles - P.J. Soles) -    rating: **** stars

Continuing to bounce across genres, 'Don't Blame Me' sported a catchy country-rock melody that climbed in your head and wouldn't leave.  Kicked along by nice acoustic guitars and some pretty harmony vocals, a band like Firefall would have been thrilled to have recorded this one.     

4.) Almighty  (Ned Albright) -     rating: *** stars

Almighty' found the band taking a stab at a surprisingly impressive Gospel flavored number.  Delaney and Bonnie would have been impressed ...  

5.) Touch   (J. Steven Soles - David Kapell) -     rating: ** stars

The album's first true disappointment, 'Touch' was a plodding and over emoting ballad that sounded like something a solo Eric Carmen might have recorded.  Forgettable.  

6.) Jamaican Sunset   (J. Steven Soles - P.J. Soles) -    rating: ** stars

As much as I'd love to say something about the closer, 'Jamaican Sunset' was as lame as the title would imply.  Hard to believe, but Johnny Nash's early-1970s reggae work sounded positively inspired compared to this lame waste of time.  




And here's where it gets strange.  In 1976 the infamous Tiger Lily Records reissued the album under Soles name.  The cover art was different, but it was the same eleven songs in the same track order.







Soles subsequently went to work with Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review, The Alpha Band, a couple of mis-1980s solo albums, and as an in-demand songwriter and producer.  


As mentioned above, after three albums with The Alpha Band featuring T-Bone Burnett and David Mansfield), Soles recorded a pair of Christian-flavored solo albums:


- 1980's "Promise" (Maranatha Music catalog number MM-0072A)

- 1982's "Walk By Love" (Good News Records catalog number GNR 8113)