Beauty For Ashes
I Grade
CD / Digital Release
March 11, 2014

Track list
  1. A Reminder
  2. When Jah Arise feat. Lutan Fyah
  3. Same Boat We
  4. Beauty For Ashes
  5. Betterment Mouth
  6. Same I Ah One feat. Pressure
  7. Holy Mountain
  8. Generation Again
  9. All I's On You
  10. Weather The Storm feat. Ras Batch
  11. Tried And Tested
  12. Hold On
  13. A Healing
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Cast your vote below.

Essential -Votes: 7-
Very Good -Votes: 3-
Good -Votes: 1-
Average -Votes: 0-
Disappointing -Votes: 0-
A Waste Of Time -Votes: 0-

Total votes : 11
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
In order to maintain raspect and honor in Reggae Music one must have consistency, creativity and originality. St.Croix's MIDNITE has seamlessly been able to do that (and more) for over twenty years. This band has released 52 albums since 1997; transforming and transcending Roots Reggae Music. The amazing observation is that every one of those albums has so much to offer; just an astonishing amount of material that truly resonates and cultivates to the fullest. Their latest offering, "Beauty For Ashes" with longtime link I Grade just may be their best yet. Emphasis on "yet", because the quality continues to raise the bar of Roots Reggae - no ceiling...

MIDNITE originated in St.Croix in 1989 by Vaughn and Ron Benjamin; both from an extremely musically rich family. Fast forward to the mid 1990's and they're based in Washington, D.C; performing three hour shows at numerous clubs with foundation bassie Joe Straws and other dedicated bredrin. Powerful songs like "Kaaba Stone" and "Bushman" were realized at these shows. In 1997, they went into a local studio to record ten songs (no mix, no overdub) in true form. The result "Unpolished" was released exclusively in Namibia where they had a great chance to show another region their majestic power.(Note: this album was not fully released until 2001 on the Rastafaria label). They came back Stateside and toured incessantly. Their sophmore album, "Ras Mek Peace" was recorded in the same fashion and made an impact. Their third set, "Jubilees Of Zion" was their first mixed album and recorded at their Afrikan Roots Lab (St. Croix) and the rest is history! The consistency prevailed with recent standouts like "King's Bell" and "Children Of Jah".

"Beauty To Ashes" is a divine project with I Grade (partners for ten years and features a musical roster that are at the forefront of modern Roots. Laurent "Tippy I" Alfred's unit consists of fantastic musicians/engineers from V.I/U.S/JA and are responsible for the riddims and production of some of the FINEST releases in recent memory! Drummies are Jr. Richards, Craig Taylor and legends Style Scott and Squidley Cole. Bassie is JAH D. Guitars are licked by Andrew "Moon" Bain, Padraic Coursey and Tippy I. Keys are licked by Tippy I, Jazzique. Horns up for Balboa Becker and Garrett Kobsef. Legendary percussionist Scully is here on kette! These tracks were laid at Tuff Gong (Roland McDermott!!), Aqua Sounds (Tippy I) and South Beach Studios (Gary Woung). Tippy I does such a masterful job mixing these majestic tracks. This is the first of a trio of I Grade releases; look out for future projects Lutan Fyah and Pressure Buss Pipe (both featured here).

This set opens with A Reminder. Vaughn Benjamin really opens up inna clear singing fashion which complements the classic JA riddim. There's a distinct Roots Radics vibe here with killer drumming, keys and vivid horns. Instant conciousness! When JAH arise is humbly urgent with Aswadesque horns, taut drumming and more Roots Radics tribute. Vaughn and Lutan Fyah combine for a full Rastafari anthem and soar above the lilting riddim. Great, great track. The glory continues with Same Boat We. A great message about losing mentality supported by Padraic's very Radics style guitar and JAH D's intricate bass work. The title track is pure ites. Style Scott is impeccable along with Scully's kette (definite JA feel) and Vaughn lays down a soulful approach - "don't put perspective in scrutinity". A Rightious ode to the max; pure flowing idealogy that showcases the INItelligence of this visionary. Same I Ah One is perfection. The drum and bass of Squidley and JAH D lays the foundation for a poetic and just meditation that's so true. Lyrics like "after all is said and done, same I ah One. Haile salutation to all nations". This is JAH art; so deep and itally textured. Pressure's rock solid delivery contrasts just right and overproof he's such a rising force.

Holy Mountain is a sincere observation of Africa from many perspectives of reality. Great drums from Jr. Richards and horns from the reliant Balboa Becker. The Rockers riddim brings back memories of early Sly & Robbie mastery. Big up! All i's On You is a concise meditation of the grip technology has on Creation. Clear vocal approach and masterful guitar licks. Weather The Storm with Ras Batch is of the highest spiritual order. Both vocalists giving raw emotion and maximum ises unto The Most High. Triumphant and powerful musically and lyrically! The Glory continues with Tried And Tested. Full of gorgeous overtones and a tasty Dub atmosphere; this song harks back to early Midnite offerings -"Seek Knowledge Before Vengeance", perhaps. Hold On is flowing with Soul with Jazzique's killer key work and JAH D's top ranking basslines. Massive tune with ancient wailing and flowing chords. This set closes with the serious A Healing. A musical discussion about money and substance abuse; this track really hits home.

MIDNITE has done it again! The use of immaculate JA styled riddims and Vaughn Benjamin singing in a extremely clear manner make this a complete success. I Grade never settles for second and delivers. This is no different! One can learn a lot from listening to this album and it would be a shame to miss out on this tour-de-force. Midnite spearheaded The Virgin Islands Roots movement for a plethora of amazing talent and "Beauty To Ashes" is a clear reason why. Pick up your copy. GO DEH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!