Music: Anthems for the Mystery Kids

The reggae reveries of Garland Jeffreys make a fine record

Marcellino Casanova. Johnny-one-arm. Little Angel from Laslow Street. Cinderella. Names that sound like Damon Runyon. Lives that feel like William Burroughs. These are Garland Jeffreys' mystery kids, and the extraordinary music that he makes about them seems to come straight from their lives.

Sometimes Jeffreys sings about these kids directly: the hard, hopeless downtown orphans whose hustle along the thin edge becomes a musical metaphor for political desperation and spiritual desolation. Often the kids lurk at the core of a lyric or, like phantoms,...

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