Great Expectations
Michael Rose
Rhythm Club Records-Munich
June 5, 2008

Track list
  1. Momento
  2. This Fire Burns
  3. Great Expectations
  4. Pictures In My Mind
  5. Money
  6. Big Ting
  7. In Trouble Again
  8. Letter To Myself
  9. Freedom
  10. Fire
  11. Surfing
  12. How Would You Feel
  13. Mama Africa (Prayer For Dafur)
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4 Backing : 3 Production : 3 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
Michael Rose -- sometimes also spelled Mykal Rose -- left Black Uhuru back in the 1980s, and since he has recorded a notable amount of solo albums. Unfortunately you never knew what to expect when you found a brand new Michael Rose album in the racks of a record store. If you were lucky you had laid hands on a great collection of tunes which fully justified the man's status as a major reggae star, but it easily could turn out to be a thoroughly disappointing purchase. The unbalanced quality of his albums made him a "hit or miss" artist.

With recent albums like the superb, Ryan Moore produced, "African Roots" and "Warrior" sets and great tunes such as his current hit "Shoot Out" and "Feeling Lonely" in mind, we had great expectations of this brand new Michael Rose collection. But again, Michael Rose has managed to deliver a rather disappointing album. The vocals for this UK set were recorded over about seven days in the summer of 2006, most of them being actually Michael Rose's first take. After that the recording of additional instrumentation -- with bongos played by Jonah Dan and guitar by Fellipe Souljah -- as well as some backing vocals were recorded, before the album was properly mixed in the winter of 2006.

Without doubt the musicians who have laid the riddim tracks are solid players of instruments, but most of the times their efforts -- even though they're a mix of different styles -- fail to cause real excitement. As a whole their contributions sound too average, and thus it depends too much on Michael Rose's vocal powers and lyrical delivery, which in this case don't provide that much relief because vocally he sounds somewhat tired and/or uninspired, and in a few tunes he simply lacks lyrics to keep you involved. Only a couple of tracks on this Paul Fox & Shades Of Black produced album are great to hear including the wicked Steppers tune "Pictures In My Mind", the wonderful love tune "Letter To Myself", and "Mama Africa (Prayer For Dafur)", the latter being a haunting and sparse nyabinghi anthem.

Along with this very mellow vocal release comes a dub album entitled "Dub Expectations".