The Defamation of Strickland Banks

A Number One hit in England, the second album from this U.K. rapper-turned-crooner is a concept record that tells the story of a fictional soul singer who is falsely imprisoned. There is courtroom drama, there are harrowing scenes in prison showers and late-night bouts of conscience in jail cells. All of it is silly in the extreme. You're advised to ignore the ridiculous plot particulars and concentrate on the album's modest pleasures: chiefly, Plan B's lovely, Smokey Robinson-style tenor and deft melodic touch, which raise songs like the melancholic "Love Goes Down" and the string-swathed ballad "I Know a Song" a grade or two above the norm for British Motown pastiches.

Listen to Plan B's "Love Goes Down":
Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos

From The Archives Issue 1129: April 28, 2011