Gone Are The Days
Joseph Israel
Lions Of Israel
April 24, 2006

Track list
  1. Jerusalem
  2. Truth
  3. Gone Are The Days
  4. Jah Kingdom
  5. Mankind
  6. Hotta Fyah
  7. Ruff Times feat. Luciano
  8. Jah Souljah's
  9. Perfect Love
  10. Be Together
  11. King Of Kings
  12. What A Day
  13. Universal Love feat. Mikey General, Erica Newell & Rochelle Bradshaw
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 3 Backing : 4 Production : 3/4 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 2/3
Just like Matisyahu (the Hasidic reggae/hip-hop crossover star) word is spreading of this Tulsa, Oklahoma, born Israelite youth who calls himself Joseph Israel. Ever since the release of his debut album "Gone Are The Days" last year, people in the US reggae community have been buzzing about him. The production of this album took place in Kingston at Jamaica’s top studios including Tuff Gong, Big Yard, Buss Out Studios, and Bobby Digital's studio. There Joseph Israel recorded his songs with Jamaica's topnotch musicians which included Chris Meredith on Bass, Earl "Chinna" Smith on lead guitar, Dean Fraser on sax, Ian "Beezy" Coleman on rhythm guitar, Wilburn "Squidley" Cole on drums, Paul "Scooby" Smith on keys, Bubbler, and Paul “Wrong Move” Crossdale on piano. Also included in this line up are the harmony vocals of Erica Newell and Rochelle Bradshaw. It's obvious expectations are raised high when running through this impressive line up before starting to give this cd a spin. For the most part this collection of tunes lives up to expectations, but there's also something lacking to make Joseph Israel's first official release a must have for any modern roots enthusiast. The riddims, all fresh originals, are rooted in the traditional sound of roots reggae. They are well laid, sound real tight, and are a joy to hear. At times the sound is nicely spiced with for example a scorching guitar solo ("Hotta Fyah") and jazz piano and sax ("Jah Kingdom"). Also the singer's devout lyrics are worth of hearing, even though not everything he sings are very original messages. However, the main problem is Joseph Israel's lacklustre vocal delivery. Too often his voice fails to make a good impression and sometimes he's overpowered by the strong backing. Best tracks included here are "Ruff Times", the hit single with Luciano, the beautiful "Jah Kingdom", the appealing "Mankind" and the title track, "Gone Are The Days".
Joseph Israel largely benefits from the excellent musicianship of his Jamaican group of musicians, but one wonders if he will be able to deliver an at least matching result when he has to do it on his own.