Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Exclusive Interview with Eric Rachmany of Rebelution PART 2

RR: Any other influential artists that you give credit to?

Eric: Not as much as Don Carlos but I guess all of the Black Uhuru stuff is something that I got into pretty heavily. The genre is so…there’s so many songs that I’ve heard and learned over the years that I’ve got into. I’ve been into different artists at different points.

RR: The Jamaica Observer recently did an article about the band. How does that feel?

Eric: Yeah, I saw that. That’s awesome! Wow! I can’t believe it! Also, the Gleaner did an article on us a little while ago. That was cool. Very, very cool.

RR: Have you been to Jamaica? Do you have any plans to perform or record there?

Eric: I haven’t been yet but it’s on the list. I gotta go there.
We don’t have any plans right now but we definitely would like to, that’s for sure. There’s a lot artists you can collaborate with. There’s also probably a lot of music I could gather just by going to Jamaica and bring it back and see what I like. I’m actually super particular about what I listen to. For every song that I like there’s so many that I don’t. Once you get into that one song that you like I play it over and over again until I’m sick of it and then move on to another song that I love. That’s how I song write too. I like to think of a melody in my head just over and over again and I think about it all the time until it turns into a song and then I’ll move on to the next song. It’s hard for me to write multiple songs at once.

RR: I think that’s why your lyrics and songs have such quality to them, because of that effort.

Eric: Thank you.

RR: You guys have really developed a good following in the States. Do you have any plans Internationally?

Eric: We’ve been talking a little bit about going to Aruba. We have a lot of good fans in Aruba and we’ve been to Guam before and played for the fans out there and that was amazing. Of course, Hawaii is part of the country but it sort of feels like another country. We definitely have been talking about going to Europe. I don’t know if our publicist told you but when we released ’Bright Side of Life’ I was looking on my computer and saw that in France we were the #5 most down-loaded Reggae album when it first came out. That was really surprising. I had no idea that people knew our stuff there. We definitely want to go to Europe we think we’d be really great out there and to see that part of the world. We’ve never been out there. We’d love to go.

RR: Any particular artist that you would at some point like to work with?

Eric: Definitely, Don Carlos is my #1. I just got to meet him in Ft. Lauderdale the day before we did the show in Orlando. We were talking about maybe collaborating at some point. That would be really cool. As far as some of the new artists and some of the dance hall artists. Collie Budz would be pretty cool. I like him a lot. I think he’s pretty innovative. There’s a guy out of Sweden named Million Stylz, he seems pretty cool. I like his message a lot. He’s a little more Dance Hall than Rebelution. It would still be a pretty neat combination.

Part 3 Coming Friday.........

Monday, September 28, 2009

Exclusive Interview with Eric Rachmany of Rebelution PART 1

After two awesome shows in Orlando Eric Rachmany from Rebelution was kind enough to grant The Reggae Review an interview on his off day in New Orleans. Thanks Eric and thanks Rebelution! The Interview will appear in three parts.

Part One:

RR: Tell me about Moonlight? What was the Inspiration behind it?

Eric: As far as lyrically I was just thinking about just trying to be patient and relate with someone that maybe you don’t normally relate to. So, just having that patience. I thought about being in a location where no one can find you. It’s just one on one with that person and just try to relate and understand each other. But then the music….I always think of that song as a folk song actually. It’s cool how it turned out. It’s definitely different from all the other Rebelution songs.

RR: Agreed. The other tune that stood out to me from the moment I heard it was “Running”?

Eric: Okay. Cool. There used to be another singer in the band also on the last album and that’s actually one of the songs that he helped write. He did the majority of the song writing on that one. I can definitely tell you what it’s about. It’s just, sort of, I think finding a comfort zone and not paying attention to the standards that the world provides, those are part of the lyrics, and just, sort of continuing on your own path and your own judgment…to not be afraid…you don’t have to be running all the time…you can have that sort of patience and understanding and you can get in that comfort zone and continue.

RR: I think a lot of people can really relate.

Eric: Yeah, definitely.

RR: That’s one thing I’ve always appreciated about you guys is that you do music that people can relate to. To me that’s what sets you apart. You guys are very succinct with your lyrics.

Eric: Thank you.

RR: There was a lot of energy during your set. It looked like you were really having a blast. Is it safe to say you enjoy performing?

Eric: Definitely. It’s definitely what we live for. That’s why we like touring the most. Getting on stage…it’s cool seeing all these different places and greeting the fans everywhere.. but we get such satisfaction out of getting on stage and playing the music that we’ve been playing for five years together now. So, it’s definitely our comfort zone on stage. It’s so much fun.

RR: It looks that way. It comes through. So, how did it start? What got you into reggae?

Eric: I went to see a Don Carlos show back in High School. Do you who Don Carlos is?

RR: Yeah .It’s funny, I was actually going to ask you about that because the first time I heard ‘Feelin Alright’ I immediately thought of Don Carlos.

Eric: Very cool… That’s a compliment. Once I saw Don Carlos play and heard his amazing band I was like “Wow! This music is really cool. I really like what’s going on here.”
When I got to college I met the other three guys in the band. We all met at City College in Santa Barbara. It was sort of through music classes that we met. We just started jammin on some cover tunes. Some of them were Don Carlos songs, some were Bob Marley, even Sublime. Just hangin out with those guys I got to listen to the music they listened to as well. I came to realize how diverse reggae music was and how diverse we could make our version of reggae music. It was cool. I started song writing a lot when I first got into college and once I met the band and we started jamming together just more and more original songs kept on coming out. That’s kind of how Rebelution formed.

RR: It must come natural. You sound like you’re comfortable together. You sound good together. Keep it up! The reason I say that is because the reggae band has not been very prominent of late.

Eric: I definitely feel you on that. It never used to be like that. There used to be a lot of really prominent reggae bands and somehow it kind of strayed away from that a little bit so we’re happy to bring back that ‘live band’ sound in our sets.

Part Two Coming Wednesday..............

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Imperial Blaze is Sean Paul’s best International debut album to date

It’s official. With almost a quarter-million records already sold outside of the United States, Sean Paul’s fourth studio album, Imperial Blaze, is the dancehall superstar’s biggest international debut to date.
Imperial Blaze has so far found its way in 236,000 CD players, with
record breaking sales in the reggae-dancehall hungry country of Japan, being RIAA certified gold in France, and top ten releases in Switzerland, Canada, and even as far as the United Arab Emirates.
Sean Paul expressed delight regarding the progress of the album on the international stage. “It’s a good feeling and I’m happy – very happy that people like the music, and that they’ve been going out and getting the album,” he said.
The Grammy-winning, platinum selling superstar has been on the road promoting his first album in four years. The work has been paying off, as Imperial Blaze has been setting charts on fire since its August release, and he’s particularly proud of the success of the album in Japan.
“Number 1 in Japan is a big achievement for me. I’m especially proud of that, because outside of Jamaica, Japanese people are really the biggest consumers of dancehall music,” he said.
Imperial Blaze is also leaving a fiery path on European charts and turning up the heat on radio stations and in clubs. Apart from being certified gold in France Imperial Blaze debuted at #8 in that country, #7 in the United Arab Emirates, #5 in Canada, #4 in Switzerland, #15 in Belgium, #17 in Austria, and #17 in Germany.
It was also the first ever Jamaican album to debut atop the Billboard Rap Charts. The wholly Jamaican produced project debuted atop the Billboard Reggae Charts, #3 on the Hip Hop/R&B Album charts, #12 on the Billboard 200, #9 on the Digital Albums, and #20 on the European Albums chart.
Sean Paul will be touring the world to support the album with his next stop being in Nigeria next week.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Not an Easy Road for Buju Banton

It's not difficult to imagine Buju Banton performing his prophetic hit song Not An Easy Road some time soon, making adjustments to the lyrics, replacing the word road with 'tour'."It's Not An Easy Tour" would be quite apt.
Apart from shows that have been cancelled, this is the third time on the current US tour that there has been a change of venue. And this is the second time in the same city - Richmond, Virgina. The show had to be moved as gays have been applying tremendous pressure on the Gargamel.
"In what has turned out to be the most controversial reggae show ever brought to Virginia, the Buju Banton Richmond show has yet again been moved to a new location! The Hat Factory has bowed to pressure placed on them by the gay lynch mob who have zeroed in on Buju Banton and are determined that he will not perform in Richmond, Virgina.
"However, the gay activists have seriously underestimated the power of Jah, and the show, which will go on, has been moved to the Richmond Skateland, located at 5512 Hull Street, Richmond, VA on Saturday, September 26th," an e-mail from sources connected the controversal tour stated.
As reported in last week's Splash, the gay community in Richmond, VA is determined in its fight to prevent Buju Banton from performing in their city.
They have been loud in their outcry against the Jamaican entertainer. So determined are they, that they even sent an e-mail to city councilwoman Ellen Robertson, threatening violence as well as revenue loss to the venue called The National.
This development came on the heels of a number of other shows that were cancelled. This prompted Buju's camp to issue a statement seeking to assure fans that the tour is definitely on and that efforts were being made to replace the cancelled shows at different venues.
The Rasta Got Soul tour has some 30 dates before completion.
(from the Jamaica Observer)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jimmy Cliff Nominated for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The nominations for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum were announced Wednesday.
The twelve nominees are: ABBA, Darlene Love, Donna Summer, Genesis, Jimmy Cliff, KISS, Laura Nyro, LL Cool J, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Chantels, The Hollies, and The Stooges.
Ballots will be sent to more than 500 voters, who will select artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the 25th Annual Induction Ceremony on March 15, 2010 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.
To be eligible for nomination into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an act must have released its first single or album at least 25 years prior to the year of nomination. This year's nominees had to release their first single no later than 1984.

Very few single albums can be said to have changed music forever. Jimmy Cliff's The Harder They Come is one. The album - and the movie that spawned it - introduced reggae to a worldwide audience and changed the image of the genre from cruise ship soundtrack to music of rebellion and inspiration. "Sitting in Limbo," "The Harder They Come," "You Can Get It If You Really Want," and "Many Rivers to Cross" made Jimmy Cliff the first international reggae superstar and created the model that Bob Marley would soon follow. A beautifully gifted singer and a uniquely influential songwriter, Jimmy Cliff has made a profound impact on rock and pop music all over the world for 40 years.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bob Marley Beer Coming Soon!!

The family of Bob Marley have sealed a deal to market the singer’s image, songs and words on a range of merchandise. Marley’s eldest daughter, Cedella, said she is considering offers to market a range of Bob Marley-endorsed ventures including beer, coffee, headphones, hotels, snowboards and cafes. She told BBC News that the late reggae star’s family is currently working with private equity firm Hilco to market the products.“We’re open to licensing just about anything,” Marley said, although she added that the main instigation behind the move was to combat unauthorised material bearing Marley’s name or music. She said: “This is a big business for bootleggers. We want to stop some of the nonsense, and make sure the great stuff upholds our standards. We’re in control.”Marley denied that the move has resulted in Hilco effectively owning a part of the Marley estate, saying “nothing has been sold”.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

U.S. Media Lauds Tarrus Riley

From the pages of the New York Times to the hallows of the BET TV studios, Reggae sensation Tarrus Riley has been widely heralded for the growing success of his recently launched third studio album, Contagious.
With some of the world's most influential entertainment entities including the iconic JET Magazine, BET and the classic Essence magazine 'singing his praises', Riley is widely touted as the next big reggae act out of Jamrock and sets the current standard, says the NY Times, for international reggae music acts today, "Peter Tosh sang of Reggaemylitis in 1981, diagnosing a pandemic of indigenous Jamaican music spreading around the world. But in the 28 years since the death of Tosh's bandmate Bob Marley, reggae has sought a new standard-bearer - Mr Riley ..." Music mavens at Billboard also gush praises for Tarrus: "Armed with all the right ingredients from his harmonious brand of love-inspired roots reggae, Tarrus is one of Jamaica's shining superstars ..."
His star also burned unbelievably bright as he made a recent feature appearance on BET's new show 'The Deal'. Dedicated to showcase emerging talent as well as highlight the current video toppers, Riley was invited on set to speak about his beginnings, his inspirations and his music. "The music of my generation is predominantly dancehall but being who I am and how I grew up, my father a singer and my mother a nurse, I embraced music because of its comforting nature. It is healing music, no matter what going on in your life, music soothes the soul and that is exactly the effect Tarrus Riley's music should have on you ... good music with a positive message," he said.
A modern-day 'Reggae Pied Piper', Riley's talent, passion and originality has reignited worldwide interest in classic roots reggae, an honour which Riley is only too happy to fulfil.
"My music is healing music and its mystic lies within the 'roots'. We can sing any style but we don't stray from the 'roots' message. My music is truly contagious and I want the whole world to catch it." he says.
His immediate mission in his bid to 'infect' the world with medicinal melodies saw him join forces with Contagious' producer and legendary saxophonist Dean Fraser, upcoming reggae singer Duane Stephenson and the Blak Soil Band on a five-week tour of North America and Canada, spreading the message of positivity, unity and love.
Performing in almost 30 cities, Riley's rich alto-mastered tracks from his latest work include Start Anew, Love's Contagious, Human Nature, Soul Mate, Life of A Gun, Good Girl Gone Bad as well as renditions from his international chart-topping album, Parables, including the smash hits She's Royal, Lion Paw and Stay With You.
Riley's melodious harmonies, powerful interactions with sax man Dean Fraser, crooner Duane Stephenson and the refreshing young talent of Sherieta Lewis earned the singer further praise from international music media who were enamoured with his talent: "As festivals and parades around the country celebrate the last few unofficial moments of summer, people are trying to figure out how to keep the summer vibe burning all year long. One certain way is to take a listen to roots reggae star Tarrus Riley ..." quips Essence magazine.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bob Marley Documentary Still on Track

The authorised Bob Marley documentary will still premiere in Germany for Marley's 65th birthday amidst reports that production was stalled due to changes in directors.
"It is in the post-production stages and shall premiere at the Berlin Film Festival next February," Janice Allen, film manager at Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI), told the Observer. "We are still in discussion as to when it will be premiered in Jamaica."
JTI had facilitated the acquisition of documentation needed to commence filming on the island, including licences, and permits Allen said.
The Berlin Festival is one of the world's leading film festivals. Founded in 1951, the festival has been celebrated annually in February since 1978.
US media reports last month stated that Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme was the second major director to leave the project, following Martin Scorsese. Scorsese directed the iconic Bob Dylan documentary.
"I am not aware of that," stated Allen, who was briefed by Cinecom, the local arm of the production team.
US producer Steve Bing has been working closely with the Marley family in order to portray the life of the reggae legend, who is referred to as the Che Guevara of music.
Allen said that the documentary was important not only to the Marley family but to Jamaica as it would "tell how he impacted the world".

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Story of The Song: Rolling Stones pick up Half Pint's "Winsome"

Whether a rolling stone gathers moss or not in a tropical country is a matter for observation and debate. What is beyond doubt, though, is that British band, The Rolling Stones, primarily through their guitarist Keith Richards' affinity for Jamaica, has picked up many a reggae wisp to go with their rock.
And one of them was Half Pint's first number-one song in Jamaica, 1983's 'Winsome'. When the Stones covered the song three years later for their Dirty Works album, they changed the title to 'Too Rude'. Interestingly, it is one of the few Rolling Stones recordings on which Richards sings the lead vocals.
Half Pint gets his due writing credits for the fifth and final song on the album's A side, as Lindon Roberts.
Half Pint heard about the Stones covering his song when Jimmy Cliff and percussionist Sydney Wolfe were at a studio in Holland when Richards chose it, Wolfe relaying the news to Half Pint. "He (Richards) used to spend a lot of time in Jamaica. He probably was around when it was popular on the charts," Half Pint surmises.
rock attitude
He finds the re-titled, rock version of 'Winsome' "interesting still. They did it in a slow tempo way. That tempo was more like a ballad tempo, but you can hear the rock attitude. They had rock with a pop feel".
Reggae was not left out, as Half Pint tells The Sunday Gleaner that The Rolling Stones also "did it in a way that you can realise it was a reggae song. It was not far from reggae, but you could hear the difference".
Coming that early in his recording career, the cover version by one of the top bands in the world made an impact on Half Pint. "I realised people been listening then," he said, "It really gave me some more encouragement and support."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rebelution Live at The Social in Orlando

Having been to numerous Reggae Shows over the years I have come to realize that they NEVER start on time. "Show Time" usually covers a span of about an hour or two or three. If the show is scheduled to start at 8 pm it's usually 10 pm, or later, before it starts. I've gotten used to it and I usually don't waste my time getting there early or even getting there at "Show Time" because it's always later than advertised.

That being said, I wrongly assumed the same for Rebelution's show in Orlando on August 30th.

I arrived, feeling I was there in plenty of time, only to find that they were already about 20 minutes into their set. They started right on time. Props to the band. I appreciate punctuality. Obviously starting late is a 'Jamaican' thing. Ask a Jamaican what time something starts and they typically say..... "Usual Time". Where is it at?....."Usual Place". Time is not of the essence and I'm very cool with that. The laid back mentality is refreshing and welcome.

From the time I arrived, I picked up on one thing regarding Rebelution.....They LOVE performing. This was verified when I spoke to Eric Rachmany a couple of days later. They also have chemistry. Eric and Marley were feeding off of each other, sparring back and forth throughout the show. The energy level was tremendously high and constant. To me, Reggae Music is always better Live. That was definitely the case with Rebelution. And don't get me wrong, I love their albums. When you take the brilliance they create in the studio to the stage you can't go wrong.

One thing that's nice when a band is relatively young and only has 2 full length albums and an EP to their credit is that you pretty much get to hear them play EVERY song. (Other than the 20 minutes I missed) Fortunately, I was there in time to hear my favorites. "Running"..... incredible. "Feelin' Alright".... mesmerizing. "Suffering" notch. "Outta Control" was just that. "Lazy Afternoon" was a perfect change of pace to a well planned set list.

Rebelution are seasoned musicians. I can't overemphasize how GREAT they sound live and how WELL they perform together. That let's me know that they're going to be around for many years to come. Which, of course, means there will be MANY future opportunities to see them perform. The next chance I get I'll make sure of one thing......I'll be on time!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Tarrus Riley Concert Review

Energetic, Humble, Gracious, Charismatic.........All of these terms aptly describe Tarrus Riley. For someone who has achieved tremendous success in the Reggae Industry, he remains rooted and grounded. He enjoys what he does and it really shows. He also appreciates his fans and, no doubt, realizes that their support has been crucial in his meteoric rise to stardom.
I'm basing much of this on Tarrus' stage show performance a few weeks ago in St. Pete. He interacted with the crowd like an appreciative artist would and should. Tarrus calmly hit the stage with the powerful 'Lion Paw' and from there the crowd was mesmerized. It was hit after hit. Included among them was 'Love's Contagious', 'Micro Chip', 'Stay With You' and many more. There was nothing missing. The consumate bandleader, Dean Fraser was at his best. Blak Soil was tight. The harmony trio sang like birds.

A deadly medley that included 'Friend Enemy', 'Start a New', and 'Far Away' was scintillating. On 'Human Nature' Tarrus was smooth and mellow. He even treated the audience to a little MJ medley during the introduction complete with moonwalk! (Yes, you read that correctly and Yes, it was good!)

'She's Royal' brought the crowd to a fever pitch. Wheel and Come again! Music so nice you haffi play it twice!

The evening would have been memorable had it ended there but Tarrus wasn't done. The intro to the next tune was unique and left many guessing, including myself. However, when Tarrus belted out "Blak Soil.. Russian...Head Concussion!" the crowd erupted!! With 'Good Girl Gone Bad, Tarrus definitely saved the best for last, adeptly handling the deejaying as well as the singing. The highlight of a wonderful evening.

Tarrus Riley is a performer. His stage presence is remarkable. The man truly enjoys every minute that he is up there. If you ever have the opportunity to see him in concert DO NOT miss it. You will be treated to a memorable experience.

"Blak Soil.....Russian"!..........See what I mean. It's been weeks and I still can't get it out of my head.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

SOJA 'Born In Babylon' Review

I must admit that I've never paid much attention to 'SOJA'. I don't know why. I have no plausible excuse. I guess I wasn't willing to give them much of a chance since most of the state-side reggae bands I've heard in the past have not impressed me. Over the years there has been very little originality on the American reggae scene. Too many imitators and not near enough originators. I never purposely placed SOJA in this category, I just blindly assumed they were like all the rest. That was a huge mistake! How could I have missed such a treasure? I've definitely learned a valuable lesson: Not all American Reggae is what it seems. There are bands out there that are producing Reggae of the highest quality whilst bringing originality to the genre. SOJA is definitely one of those bands. (Check Rebelution for another)

Their 3rd full-length album 'Born In Babylon' catapults them to the upper echelon of Reggae Bands. The music is tight and the selection is right. Jacob Hemphill epitomizes what it means to be a reggae songwriter with simple, yet multi-layered lyrics and messages. "This is the album we've been wanting to make for ten years", says Jacob. "At first we were hard-core old school, then we got new school and inventive. This is what we've learned from all that. 'Born In Babylon' is hard roots drum and bass, big wide guitar and vocal melodies, and two and three sided lyrics, and two and three sided messages." Beautifully stated!

The title track leads the way. Layer 1: Critics and judgemental ones beware! There's no tolerating mindless criticism as Hemphill asks: 'Who do you think I think I am?' Layer 2: Hemphill declares 'I got the feeling that there's more like me, Born in Babylon but you just got to be free.........I WON'T STOP.' A very pointed beginning.

From there the listener is treated to track after track of quality reggae music. Losing My Mind, Used To Matter, and Bleed Through are smart and insightful tunes with horn arrangements that would make Lucky Dube proud. You and Me with Chris Boomer (and a well placed violin) is smooth and mellow. Hemphill and Boomer compliment each other perfectly on a well-penned tune about a love that won't quit.

Decide You're Gone is one of the gems of the record. Hemphill's voice is crisp and expressive with the horn section again playing a prominent part in the bubbling riddim. I Don't Wanna Wait is superb lyrically, melodically and musically. A militant stance against political corruption coupled with a message of personal responsibility. Absolutely brilliant!

Germaican sensation Gentleman along side Empress Tamika shows up on the powerful lovers tune I Tried. The sullen and bluesy Thunderstorms adds another nice dimension to the record while the stripped-down Here I Am featuring Marley, Rory, and Eric of Rebelution is a fabulous, though unwelcome, conclusion to the album.

From top to bottom 'Born In Babylon' does not disappoint. It is an album that will impress even the most seasoned reggae listener. SOJA is for real. BUY THIS ALBUM .

The beautiful thing about it for me is this: 'Born In Babylon' is my first SOJA album. That means there are 5 other albums and EPs that I haven't really heard. I can't wait to go back and listen to see how they arrived at 'Born In Babylon.' The magnificent journey that is Reggae Music continues....... What a ride!

SOJA - Born In Babylon (Bonus Track Version)

Track Listing:
1.Born In Babylon
2. Losing My Mind
3. Used To Matter
4. Bleed Through feat. Black Boo of Mambo Sauce
5. You and Me feat. Chris Boomer
6. Don't Forget
7. Decide You're Gone
8. I Don't Wanna Wait
9. I Tried feat. Gentleman and Tamika
10. Never Ever
11. Waking Up
12. Summer Breeze
13. Thunderstorms
14. Here I Am feat. Marley, Rory, and Eric of Rebelution