Escape From Babylon
Greensleeves Records-Groove Attack
June 26, 2009
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4/5|
Alborosie a.k.a. the 'Soul Pirate' was born in Sicily (1977) as Alberto D'Ascola. As a child he learned to play several instruments. In 1993 he formed the reggae band Reggae
National Tickets. The band released several fine albums (he signed his first contract with BMG at the age of
17!) and was highly successful with their rootsy and swinging sound. However, he decided to quit the band
because of too much pressure and the need for a change in his life. In 2001 he moved to Jamaica where he
started to work with music mogul Jon Baker of Gee Jam productions. On his own label Forward Records he
released several highly popular singles. In 2006 he surprised us with the single "Herbalist" (banned on
Jamaican radio by the authorities for glorifying ganja) and in 2007 "Kingston Town" and "Rastafari
Anthem" were among the most spinned tunes.|
Being a skillful musician, writer, engineer and producer he is one of reggae's most talented artists. He is a fan of Motown music and likes to listen to Black Uhuru, Bob Marley, Burning Spear and The Abyssinians just to name a few. No other than David Rodigan describes his music as 'real authentic reggae music'. He only uses real instruments with analogue amplifiers, no quantizers or computer sequencers. And now almost on the heels of his 2008 debut album "Soul Pirate ~ European Tour 2008 Limited Edition" he drops his sophomore album. Contrary to "Soul Pirate" not ram-packed with proven hitsingles - which he kept releasing throughout 2008, but nevertheless an extremely strong successor of it that cements his position as one of the roots artists to be reckoned with.
Whether it is coincidental or not, this album "Escape From Babylon" carries the same title as American songstress Martha Velez' 1976 album that was produced by Bob Marley and Lee 'Scratch' Perry and this album's opener "America" has a sound that would not have been out of place on Martha Velez' album musically and that lyrically quotes from many of Bob Marley's songs. It's followed by the ganja tune "No Cocaine" with a very nice uncredited marijuana sample and the very upful lead single "Mama She Don't Like You", a truly entertaining combination featuring I.Eye - the female artiste signed to Clifton 'Specialist' Dillon and Alborosie's label Sheng Yeng Clan - going truly rocksteady in her vocals with Alborosie countering as a DJ and "Global War" (one of several tunes featuring veteran harmony trio the Tamlins delivering brilliant backing vocals), a tune so strong because it just sounds like a recently discovered forgotten Black Uhuru featuring Sly & Robbie piece.
The very nice "Money" indeed features a Horacy Andy root of all evil sample and its horn line and is followed by "I rusalem", clearly inspired by the tune Alpha Blondy recorded in 1986 alongside the Wailers, and "Can't Stand It", the 1978 Dennis Brown tune featuring the legendary late Crownprince of Reggae prominently sampled. "Real Story" is an effort too much the catchiness of "Kingston Town" that comes close but doesn't match it and then "Good Woman" is a wonderful almost sung-spoken tune bigging up women (with an incredible good girl chorus by the Tamlins) followed by what should be considered as the album's title-song "Dung A Babylon". The in my opinion too superficial "One Sound" combination with Gramps Morgan and the magnificent "Humbleness", my favourite tune of the album, both benefit of Penthouse' Nikki Burt contributing sweet female backing vocals.
The closing four tunes however bring back the Tamlins for the backing vocals, first on the reassuring "Promised Land", then on his very strong accusation of Italy's Silvio Berlusconi in "Mr. President". "Operation Uppsala" is a great personal story about the Swedish Babylon trying to get a hold of Alborosie, before the album is closed with the very nice Nyahbinghi tune "Likkle Africa" on which near the end once more the Tamlins almost upstage Alborosie. With this album Alborosie once more delivers a truly recommended set of pure real authentic reggae music and this "Escape From Babylon" should be in every roots reggae collection filed right next to "Soul Pirate". (And yes, you should try to get the comic style cover of this album on LP-format!)