Mission In Progress
Gideon Music/VP Records-Groove Attack
April 11, 2008
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 3/4||Production : 4||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 3/4|
Described as one of reggae's most influential acts
around today, the members of Morgan Heritage return with their
10th album "Mission In Progress", a new release that captures five offspring of reggae
veteran Denroy Morgan, being female vocalist/keyboardist Una, vocalist Peter
('Jahpetes'), keyboardist/vocalist Roy ('Gramps'), rhythm guitarist Nakhamyah
('Lukes') and vocalist/MC/percussionist Memmalatel ('Mr. Mojo') for their own Gedion Music and of course VP Records.
The band catches the power of their stage performance on this album and infuses their
songs with a heavy dose of hip hop and rock. Produced by Morgan Heritage themselves
(with a few songs helmed by Juke Boxx' Shane Brown and No Doubt Records' Kemar 'DJ Flava'
McGregor and Big Ship's Stephen 'Di Genius' McGregor, Freddie
McGregor's son), "Mission In Progress" features beautiful and brilliant roots reggae,
but also (especially in Morgan Heritage's own productions) more 'roots-rock-reggae'
or as they themselves describe their concept 'rockaz' oriented song.|
Even when the backing is rock-oriented with guitars rambling throughout the tune like in the opener "Cross Wi Borda", there's still not a chance to miss Morgan Heritage's superb vocals, even more clear in their great take on Steel Pulse' "Blues Dance Raid" from 1984, reworked and renamed into the great "Raid Rootz Dance", the song that has been released as the first single taken from this album. But the riddims of other producers, like Shane Brown's 'Politician' backing the tune with the same name "Politician" are really grabbing me with great roots vibes and wonderful vocal harmonies getting the message of the song in your face over a great backing and so does Stephen McGregor's production of "Yute Dem Share", making me (wanting to) believe that Stephen's 'Forever'-riddim backing this song will probably earn the same huge roots-recognition for 'Di Genius' as the 'Drop Leaf'-riddim did for Donovan 'Vendetta' Bennett. But just as the vibe has been gained, it's lost again in "The Fight", where the tune is unfortunately dominated by the US-rap styled of Mr. Mojo.
The absolutely monstrous ghetto-reality statement "Brooklyn & Jamaica" over Juke Boxx' 'Statement'-riddim however completely captures the roots vibes again, just like "Nothing To Smile About" over No Doubt Records' 'Rub-A-Dub'-riddim does after the title track "Mission In Progress". The next truly great tune "Love You Right" is produced by Everton Singing Melody Hardweare alongside Michael Steer for his S.H.E.M. label over the beautiful 'Time For Love'-riddim, followed by the equally wonderful heartfelt "Faithful" featuring L.M.S.' Laza (one of three other offspring of Denroy Morgan that form L.M.S. - also comprising Miriam Morgan and Shy-Poo Morgan - ) across Arrows' 'Tears'-riddim complete with Barry White style intro. Both self-produced tunes "Be Sure" (co-produced by Mikey Koo) and the even worse "12 Shotz" (co-produced by Andrew 'Simmo' Simpson) alongside Laza are vocally as impressive as the tunes preceding, but even those vocals can't save the tunes from the shortcomings of the rock backing.
The only good thing about "Be Sure" and "12 Shotz" is that these make you listen to the brilliant "Headline" over Katrina 'DJ Sunshine' Irons' 'DST'-riddim all the more intensely and appreciative. The song closing this album "Youths Today" is the only self-produced song on this album that comes close to the productions of the other producers to finish this album in fine style. In my opinion this album would have been much much better, if Morgan Heritage would have restricted themselves to delivering the vocals, or even the backing (in that case without any rock-guitars) to avoid the trap of US-roots-reggae-style-dominated-by-guitars. In that case songs that are now unfortunately missing like "Plant Up The Herbs" over Danger Zone's 'Jam Down'-riddim and both Donovan 'Vendetta' Bennett a.k.a. Don Corleon productions "Outstanding" over 'Love Potion' and "Make It Official" over 'Far Away' would have made this an outstanding album instead of the only half-satisfying effort that has now been released.