Strictly Roots
Morgan Heritage
CTBC Music - Heartbeat Europe
CD / Digital Release
May 9, 2015

Track list
  1. Strictly Roots
  2. Child Of JAH feat. Chronixx
  3. Light It Up feat. Jo Mersa Marley
  4. Rise And Fall
  5. Perform And Done
  6. So Amazing feat. J Boog, Jemere Morgan & Gil Sharone
  7. Wanna Be Loved feat. Eric Rachmany (Rebelution)
  8. Why Dem Come Around
  9. We Are Warriors feat. Bobby Lee (SOJA)
  10. Put It On Me
  11. Sunday Morning
  12. Celebrate Life
  13. Keep On Jammin feat. Shaggy (Digital Only)
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Essential -Votes: 4-
Very Good -Votes: 0-
Good -Votes: 1-
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Total votes : 5
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 3/4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
The 2008 released "Mission In Progress" was the album that marked a 'break' for Morgan Heritage to give its members the opportunity to work on solo projects. The only one who actually managed to draw notable attention as a solo artist was Gramps Morgan, whose albums "Two Sides Of My Heart Vol. 1" and "Reggae Music Lives" were quite successful. With the 2013 released album "Here Come The Kings", Morgan Heritage was reactivated and ready to return to the forefront of Reggae music.

That "Here Come The Kings" album and also their brand new "Strictly Roots" set fully showcase that vocally, musically and technically they are still one of the best. However, it also has to be said that "Strictly Roots" continues the trend they've set with their 2005 released seventh studio album entitled "Full Circle". The arrangements of most of the songs included on that album were fleshed out with sounds, synthies, vocals, breaks and changes in order to propel the music into the (US) mainstream arena. It more or less brought the family band back to the world of Pop, which they had left with the Bobby Digital and King Jammy produced albums "Protect Us Jah" (1997), "One Calling" (1997) and "Don't Haffi Dread" (1999) after the release of their unsuccessful first album "Miracle" (1994).

Although Morgan Heritage tenth studio album has quite a few roots tunes on its tracklist, the title "Strictly Roots" isn't an appropriate one as songs such as "Sunday Morning", "Celebrate Life" and "Keep On Jammin" are done in a totally different style. In particular a song like "Celebrate Life" could have been done by Third World, while "Sunday Morning" is pure Pop music to our ears. Also "Keep On Jammin", the collaboration with Shaggy, has little to do with Reggae music. Luckily these three tunes are featured at the end of the album, which makes it very easy to skip them as it is a waste of time to listen to these cheesy songs.

Some of the good ones on this album have already been around for a while, like the Seani B produced "Perform And Done" on the wicked "Maxfield Avenue" riddim, "Why Dem Come Around" on DJ Frass' excellent "Cane River" riddim and the lovers rock song "Put It On Me", the 2014 summer scorcher produced by Shane Brown for his own JukeBoxx imprint. Apart from "Full Circle" (that album again!), there have never been that many collaboration tunes on Morgan Heritage albums. Here about half of the tracks are collaborations with obviously the one with Chronixx called "Child Of JAH" being the most interesting to check. Although it turns out to be a decent roots tune with some nice twists and turns that grows on you after several listenings, it's not a real outstanding effort. Especially worth hearing are the collaborations with Rebelution's Eric Rachmany ("Wanna Be Loved") and SOJA's Bobby Lee (the great "We Are Warriors"). Furthermore worth mentioning are the album opener "Strictly Roots", which is a solid effort, and "Rise And Fall", one of the standout tunes here.

"Strictly Roots" would have been a much better Morgan Heritage album if they hadn't included the last three tracks. (Nothing wrong with a 10-track album!!) Now overall opinion is that this new Morgan Heritage album causes mixed feelings due to its various musical styles, which we're sure not everyone will appreciate.