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Maxi Priest was virtually unknown here until he conquered the U.S. pop charts in 1990 with ”Close to You” (no relation to the Carpenters’ classic), though his mellow, reggae-based love songs had been rising in Jamaica and his native England since the early ’80s. This past year, his collaborations with Jamaican hip-hop star Shabba Ranks and ’70s soul singer Roberta Flack reached the top 10 on the R&B and pop charts. Now even his newest fans can delve into Priest’s past with Best of Me, a greatest hits collection, and with the belated American release of Priest’s first two British albums, You’re Safe and Intentions who shows a transition to smooth, American-style R&B. His heavenly harmonies and twist-and-crawl beats are accented by rich horns, Caribbean percussion, and dense bass, but the genuine sense of love and longing in his voice should win over any fan of reggae, pop, or soul. B+