Title
Artist
Label
Format
Date

Solid
Derrick Lara with The Stamina Allstars
Actual Music
CD / Digital Release
July 4, 2016

Track list
  1. Never Fail I
  2. I Wish
  3. Plant It Up
  4. Struggle
  5. ReggaeSka
  6. One God
  7. Where There's A Will feat. Paul "Congo Man" Gorden
  8. Dem A Gwan
  9. Love From The Heart
  10. Going Back To Africa
  11. Feelings Of Love
  12. Too Ungrateful
  13. Jah Nuh Dead
  14. Solid
  15. Enjoy Your Life
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
The Kingston-California connection train has been in full locomotion for many decades now with heavy-duty results. The roots seeds were sown by such statesmen as the late Joe Higgs, Haile Maskel of the Rastafarians, Soul Syndicate veterans Fully Fullwood and Tony Chin, the Wailing Souls, and more; there's a long list of expatriate reggae royalty. The full respect and love of true reggae music is evident and richly embraced in California. Northern California-based STAMINA ALLSTARS are a master-class collective of musicians whose knowledge, love and overstanding of the evolution of Jamaican music and its history is truly remarkable. The roots fraternity has taken firm notice, and a royal roll-call of artists have connected with these players of instruments. DERRICK LARA of the legendary TAMLINS recently recorded a flawless set with this accomplished ensemble. "SOLID" lives up to its title with absolute truth and conviction; it's a musical episode that explores the elements of ska, rocksteady and reggae with originality and creativity.

Derrick Lara was born in Kingston in 1958. He began his journey at an early stage, honing his vocal skills in church with his sister, the late, great Jennifer Lara. He began his career with Errol Lee in The Bare Essentials Band and played drums with The Seventh Extension Band. In 1972, he linked with Joe Gibbs and "What We Need" cemented his credentials as a force to be reckoned with. He continued to record with massive albums like "Right On Time" (1982). The following year, he joined the legendary TAMLINS and displayed his falsetto on classsics like "Red Rose" (1983), "I'll Be Waiting" (1987) and "Rebirth" (2010). The trio of Derrick, Jr. Moore and Carlton Smith backed Peter Tosh in the '80s and have provided vocal harmonies for many other artists on stage and in the studio. Derrick continues as part of The Tamlins to this day and keeps his solo career in full stride all the while. His legacy continues royally with "Solid".

The Stamina Allstars are a seasoned collective of veterans based in Santa Cruz, California. Bassist/arranger Herb Daly has been embedded in roots reggae since 1976. A member of the Rastafarians band in the early '80s, his guitar work helped make the group's album "Orthodox" a reggae collector's classic and one of the most compelling roots albums ever. Herb and drummer Bruce L. Benjamin have been expertly creating original reggae for several decades. This musical mastery continues with guitarists Rusty Zinn (a superb singer, guitarist and songwriter in his own right) and Michael Mongiello, along with keyboard veteran John Carl Nevin (who started out performing with members of Blue Riddim, and has backed Ken Boothe, the Congos and Ras Midas). Several years ago Bruce and Herb began the "100 Riddim Project", creating original riddims that pay due respect to Jamaican music's foundation players of instruments. These riddims were recorded at Oakland's Wally Sound Studio and produced by Bruce's Actual Music. The Reggae community took notice... Ken Boothe, Earl Zero, Bobby Aitken, Sammy Dread, Luciano, Hezron, Mikey General, Lymie Murray (two full length albums) and many others have graced these engaging riddims. Herb is constantly creating and arranging and the catalogue continues. This project was mixed in Kingston, Jamaica by master engineer Rohan Dwyer and features contributions from some of the best in the business; Robbie Lyn and Franklyn "Bubbler" Waul on keys; fine horn work by Everol Wray, Nambo Robinson and Dustin Hengl; and great percussion from Scully, Clive Hunt, Tuviel Levi, Rohan Dwyer and Djenne Greeves. Additional mixing was handled superbly by Clive Hunt, Fatta Marshall and Michael Williamson. Anytime you see so many notable names, something special is brewing.

"Never Fail I" is a tremendous rocksteady flow. Derrick's Zion-high falsetto fits right in the lilting bass, great bubbling, taut drums and tasty licks. Derrick has a great vocal range and he lays it out on this heartical ode to the Most High. "I Wish" is an anthemic plea for worldwide unity delivered with raw emotion. Herb's bass anchors this heavyweight riddim nicely. "Plant It Up" is a showcase of how these musicians embrace the Jamaican roots vibration, featuring a tuff-as-rockstone riddim that Derrick rides like a true champion as he delivers a rootical chant about the virtues of the Holy Herb. Boom draw! "Struggle" is a taut affair with crucial licks and kicks, chock full of reality lyrics delivered with truth and conviction. These musicians concoct a rich, full sound with their ample musical chops never detracting from the rootsiness of the riddim. The unity is felt through and through. "ReggaeSka" is a skanking delight! Derrick rides this ska-soaked riddim with a joyous lively, positive atmosphere. Mr. Daly serves up yet another lethal original bassline; his vision (and that of the entire band) is on par with the best! "One God" (a standout relick of the riddim Dennis Brown embraced many decades ago; the only bassline on "Solid" that Herb didn't create) takes Derrick to highest heights! Spiritual lyrics join the riddim in perfect unity. This beautiful track has a distinctive Tamlins feel. Standout selection! "Where There's A Will" bubbles atmospherically with heavy bass and drums joining wicked guitar licks and superior song arrangement. Derrick delivers sweet, positive, uplifting vocals and the tuff chanting from Congo Man is a great contrast.

"Dem A Gwan" has a classic rocksteady/early reggae feel. Derrick delivers some wise and pointed observations of human behavior in his signature style. Derrick demonstrates a vocal and lyrical versatility not heard on previous solo efforts, a triumphant statement that Derrick Lara is here to stay no matter what naysayers may chat. Infectious from start to finish. "Love From The Heart" is classic lover's rock. His ethereal falsetto comes out so sweet and blends perfectly with the taut drum, bass and organ work. Rusty and Michael's guitars fit the music brilliantly. "Going Back To Africa" is a serious history lesson, and evokes the classic era of reggae with Bingy Bunny nuances and a great mix from Rohan. Derrick's aching, ethereal vocals meld with the sweet riddim in this affirmation of Rasta. "Feelings Of Love" is an easy snappin' style that evokes memories of The Tamlins' "Love Divine" album. This track glides like a raft on a serene Jamaican river. Crucial track indeed! "Too Ungrateful" is an impeccable piece, with Nambo Robinson's horn work elevating this to the mountaintop. Derrick lectures an errant boy in a wise observer style over a textured roots riddim instilled with true JA vibration. A selection worthy of a rewind! "Jah Nuh Dead" is one of the most potent roots tracks Derrick has ever voiced. "Jah nuh dead, he woke me up this morning". This is a Dread a Dread affair whose poignant lyrics and a masterclass riddim are naturally intoxicating. Boom! "Solid" is as solid as a rock! Derrick's faith stands predominant despite the omnipresence of Babylon situations. The lyrics and riddim capture the pure essence of roots reggae music. The horn-driven energy of "Enjoy Your Life" showcases an honest and humble ode sung in Derrick's richly original style.

DERRICK LARA and THE STAMINA ALLSTARS have created something truly special with "Solid". How good and pleasant it is to sight veteran singers and players embracing Real Authentic Sounds and relying on their collective experience in a unified and organic manner. No artificial intelligence here; just pure natural intelligence from start to finish. Derrick Lara and The Stamina Allstars deserve the upmost recognition for this project. "Solid" is certainly one of Mr. Lara's finest solo efforts, which, considering the quality of his catalogue, is high praise indeed. This is an "all killer, nah filler" category. Every track has true meaning and purpose. Don't hesitate on this tremendous release. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION! Go Deh.

Check our their website: http://staminaallstars.com