A Little Walk
April 13, 2015
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4||Backing : 4||Production : 4||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
Jamaican reggae singer I Kong aka Ricky Storm, born Errol Kong on April 18, 1947, grew up in downtown Kingston. In the early 60s, he was founding member of the rocksteady group The Jamaicans. With this vocal group he recorded a tune called "Ba Ba Boom", which became one of the biggest Rocksteady hits. In 1972 he recorded the sufferer's anthem "The Way It Is", his first solo single (under the name of Ricky Storm) for the Top Cat label. After the hit single "Ghetto Cry", I Kong released his debut album "The Way It Is" in 1978. He then recorded a second album in 1982, the hard to find "Africa Calling", in Switzerland at the occasion of his exclusive visit in Europe. At the same time, he was songwriter for Max Romeo for whom he especially has written "Poor Man’s Life" and "Take a Hold". After that, being disillusioned about music business, he moved to the hills of St. Elizabeth in Jamaica and lived there in relative obscurity. However, in 2009 he returned with a new album, "The Forgotten Man", which consisted of old and new material.
And now, after six years, that album is followed by a brand new album with solely new recordings. This 10-track album 'inna Showcase stylee' is called "A Little Walk" and features the fruits of the collaboration between the great veteran singer and a young and promising Swiss band named Najavibes. The latter are accompanied by guest musicians such as Scully Simms on percussion, Dalton Browne on lead guitar, and Everol "Stingwray" Ray on horns. The album was recorded at Mixing Lab Studio and at Small World Studio in Kingston JA by Perry Hendricks and Gaylard Bravo, mixed by the great Roberto Sánchez at A-Lone Ark Muzik Studio in Santander, Spain, and produced by Fruits Records from Switzerland.
The first track on Side A, "Guiding Light", is a real killer, which instantly shows that I Kong's vibe and energy is as strong as it was back when. This is a crucial Roots song, underpinned by a powerful original riddim with great horn parts and nice guitar picking. On top there's I Kong's distinctive lamenting voice, a real treat for the listener's eardrums. And then there's "Guiding Dub", the icing on the cake!!! Next comes the marvelous "Live As One", not presented as seperate vocal + dub tracks, but as extended version (think: 12inch discomix single). Vocally, lyrically and musically the title track, "A Little Walk", makes a serious impression. And also its dub version called "Dub Walk" is truly worth hearing.
The topics of the songs on the flipside are more varied than the themes touched on the other side. "Groovy Feeling" has a great joyful sounding uptempo riddim, but lyrically it's not to our liking. Since Bob Marley's "Trenchtown Rock" ("One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain"), there have been far too many songs that glorify the sweet Reggae music in a way that doesn't make that much sense. Luckily the dub version is there to let the listener enjoy the riddim to the fullest. The solid "When I See You Smile", a song that deals with affairs of the heart, is beautifully sung and really touches the listener. Needless to say that Roberto Sanchez once again comes up with a notable dub version. The album opened with a Roots killer and is rounded off with a superb Roots piece, the spiritual "Mysterious Way". Big tune!!!
I Kong is back with a vengeance and the Reggae world should know, so take a little walk and spread the word!!!