Album review
Mi Livity
The Itals
Ital Music
January 15 - 2005

Tracking list

  1. Don't Fight The Feeling
  2. Heathen Rage
  3. Mi Livity
  4. This Way You Are
  5. Omnipotent
  6. Lip Service
  7. Humanity
  8. The Half
  9. Te Ta Toe
  10. Sing Song Children
  11. Battlefield
  12. Holy Holy
  13. Fragile Love
  14. Mighty Ruler
  15. The Song
  16. Live You Live
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4

The roots of The Itals go way back to the 1960s when the founder members Keith Porter, Ronnie Davis and Lloyd Ricketts sang in the rocksteady groups The Tennors and the more obscure Westmorelites. Keith Porter, who has been the heart and soul of The Itals for almost thirty years, recorded his first hit single, "Hitey Titey", with the Westmorelites on the Studio One label in 1967. Around 1969, Keith became lead singer for a band named Soul Hermit, and in 1971 he joined a new band called Future Generation. With these two bands he performed at many hotels and nightclubs on the tourist circuit of Jamaica for some six years, singing all styles of music, American and Jamaican. Tiring of the club scene around 1975, Keith ran into Ronnie Davis on Orange Street in Kingston, got a cassette with a riddim, wrote a tune called "Ina Dis Ya Time" in less than a week, and went back to Kingston to record it - together with Ronnie Davis - for Lloyd Campbell's SpiderMan label. At that moment there was no intention of forming a group called The Itals; the record first came out as Keith Porter. When "Ina Dis Ya Time" was on its way to becoming a hit in Jamaica, some promotion was needed and because there was more than one person singing, all of a sudden The Itals was a group. Producer Lloyd Campbell then quickly repressed the record as "The Itals" to meet demand. The success of "Ina Dis Ya Time" saw the group return to the studio with the addition of Lloyd Ricketts singing the third harmony part on a series of superb recordings for the SpiderMan label, which established the Itals among the best of Jamaica's singers and songwriters. 1982 saw the release of the first Itals' album, "Brutal Out Deh" on Nighthawk Records. The group's second album, "Give Me Power," was released to critical acclaim, while their third recording, "Rasta Philosophy", won a Grammy nomination for best reggae album, followed by "Cool And Dread". Their fifth album, "Early Recordings", gathers together all the Itals' early singles and several rare pre-Itals tracks for a collector's feast. Next came the disappointing Rhythm Safari album "Easy to Catch", followed by the "Modern Age" on Ras Records.
With the 2003 released cd "Mi Livity" from the Itals' Keith Porter, the Ital tradition continues into the current music scene. "Mi Livity" blends past and present as it features tunes recorded recently in Jamaica and previously unreleased material culled from old Itals masters. Besides Porter's great lead vocal we are treated to the wonderful harmonies of early Itals members Ronnie Davis, Lloyd Ricketts and David Isaacs as well as newer members Chellum Roxburgh and Keith Porter's daughter Kada. Riddims have been laid by an excellent group of musicians including members of the Roots Radics (Style Scott, Flabba Holt, Dwight Pickney and the late Bingy Bunny), Skully Simms, Bongo Herman, Bobby Ellis, Tony Greene, Barry Baily, Earl Fitzsimmons, Garfield Gabby, Steve Culture, Patrick Murray, Marquis Birch and Mafia & Fluxy. Apart from the solid "The Half", and the wonderful lovers tunes "The Way You Are" and "The Song", all produced by Lloyd Campbell, the rest of the tracks are produced by Keith Porter himself. Some truly excellent efforts that bring back memories of the Itals' heydays are the album opener "Don't Fight The Feeling", the awesome "Mighty Ruler", and "Live You Live". Matching pieces are the title track "Mi Livity", the moving "Omnipotent", and the wicked lovers rock song "Lip Service", performed in a vocal style reminiscent of early Gregory Isaacs(!). Also worth of hearing are the nyabinghi chant of "Holy Holy" and the most surprising track on this set, "Fragile Love".
Not every track is a winner, but there's enough material included here that makes this cd worthwhile checking out.

Teacher & Mr. T.