Kings And Queens
John Brown's Body
Easy Star Records
May 11, 2013

Kings and Queens - John Brown's Body Track list
  1. Step Inside
  2. Inivitation
  3. Plantation
  4. Empty Hands
  5. Fall On Deep
  6. Dust Bowl
  7. Shine Bright
  8. The Battle
  9. Starver
  10. Old John Brown
  11. Deep Summer
  12. Searchlight
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
John Brown's Body is the brainchild of Kevin Kinsella, a youthful veteran of the American reggae scene. JBB released in 1996 their debut album 'All Time' on their own I-Town Records label. The record made Rolling Stone Magazine’s 'Top 10 Indie Records List'. They teamed up with the Shanachie label and released three albums: 'Among Them' (1998), 'This Day' (2000), and 'Spirits All Around Us' (2003). After their release of 'Spirits All Around Us', the band had cemented themselves as a force on the national scene. With appearances at Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, Reggae on the Rocks, and Wakarusa, they earned a reputation for high energy, air-tight live shows. In 2005 JBB signed with the hip New York City record label Easy Star and released their fifth studio album 'Pressure Points'. This record marked a crucial point in the sonic development of JBB, evolving completely from a more traditional roots approach, to a cutting edge twist on reggae and dub they called "future roots".

A year later Kevin Kinsella left the band on good terms and Elliot Martin became the leading figure. Kinsella’s departure freed Martin to lead the band in new musical directions. For years, there had been a creative rift between the two primary songwriters and childhood friends. Kinsella’s songs tended towards religious themes and roots reggae sounds, more in line with the group's beginnings. Martin's writing emphasized futuristic and atypical rhythms, as well as dense metaphorical imagery. The band released 'Amplify' on Easy Star Records and the album debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Reggae charts. #10 on CMJ's World Music Chart, and made the 'iTunes best of 2008' list for reggae records.

On April 16, 2013, JBB released the first studio album in several years, titled 'Kings And Queens' which debuted at #1 on 'iTunes Reggae Charts'. The studio album features 12 new tracks, and was released in the following formats: iTunes download, CD, and 180 gram vinyl LP. The vinyl release was the first JBB on vinyl that was readily available for fan consumption. The album sees JBB in excellent shape, bringing us a variety of songs. Step Inside is an auto-tuned solid reggae tune, but the next tune Invitation has an overdose of (guitar) rock influences, so we skip that one and check out Plantation, a magnificent slow one drop tune. Empty Hands is an awesome, powerful tune, driven forward by the JBB horns, perfect for spinning more than once.

Fall On Deep slows down the tempo with a thumping bass line and a catchy melody. The arrangements of Dust Bowl tend to some overproduction, but the next song -Shine Bright - has a perfect good time vibe and the addition of subtle dub effects makes this one of our favourites. Starver and The Battle are exceptional reggae tunes, both done with a good amount of dub effects. Deep Summer takes us back to the sound of traditional reggae, once again with a pivotal role for the JBB horns. The album closes with Searchlight, a jumpy crossover tune with definite hit potential.

JBB's sound is a typical case of USA reggae, which will definitely make its way into the charts.