Rasta Awake
I Grade Records
June 13, 2005

Track list
  1. Give The Youths A Try
  2. Jah Reveal It
  3. Mr. Monday
  4. Honorebel
  5. Who Will Pay
  6. Tek Your Time
  7. Share Your Love
  8. Small Number
  9. Man Will Doubt
  10. Don't Move My Mountain
  11. Mi Sista
  12. Preying Mantis
  13. Rasta Awake
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
Army's "Rasta Awake" is the second album coming from the I Grade New Release Trilogy, and just like it predecessor -- Ancient King's "Conquering Sound" -- it's a worthwhile collection of tunes coming from St. Croix, Virgin Islands, the little island that has brought us some fresh and impressive roots music in the new millenium, including releases from Midnite, Bambu Station, Yahadonai, and Dezarie, to name a few. For those who have never heard of Army, here's a brief introduction to one of the many conscious singers and players of instruments from St. Croix who are worthy of international recognition.

Army (real name Fritzmaurice Williams) was born and raised on St. Croix, Virgin Islands. He began his musical journey at the age of five as a member of the youth choir at the church his family attended. Little did he know that he was laying the foundation for what would become a very promising musical career. Determined to explore a variety of styles, he learned to play the saxophone, became a member of a jazz band and sang in various local bands. After relocating to the New York City, completing his education, and serving in the US Army (which is how he got his name), Army returned home and became deeply involved in the local reggae scene.

The voice of Army first surfaced several years ago on the famously vital (though obscure) compilation "Eastbound". Soon after, Army contributed several selections to the "Homegrown" compilation album. In 2000, Army's first album - "Yesterday's News" - was released on Glamorous Records, with production provided by Dean Pond. Also in 2002, Army linked up with Dub Rise Records who released his second album, "Struggler", along with a re-release of "Yesterday's News". 2003 saw Army releasing the single "Calling Jah Army", a powerful duet with Luciano. This year (2005), Army's song, "I Don't Know" is included on Bambu Station's acclaimed compilation, "Talkin' Roots II."

And now Army delivers his third album, "Rasta Awake", largely produced by legendary guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Tuff Lion (of Bambu Station), with I Grade also contributing three riddims. "Rasta Awake" is a great, if not amazing album, which we've been playing a lot in the past week. And we're still enjoying it to the max, because each track on this album is truly above par, with some classic anthems like for example the killer tune "Don't Move My Mountain" and the title track >"Rasta Awake" around as well. Army, who is influenced by such artists as Nat King Cole, Dennis Brown and Freddie McGregor, has a distinctive, silky voice, which is complemented by appealing all-live instrumentation. Main ingredients that make this album worth of hearing are Army's songwriting and vocal delivery, the mellow sound and the well structured original riddims. Besides the already mentioned "Don't Move My Mountain" and "Rasta Awake", one should listen to tracks such as "Jah Reveal It", the awesome "Mr. Monday", the impressive "Men Will Doubt" and "Preying Mantis" to experience that a major talent has arrived. Definitely a strong contender for roots album of the year 2005!!

Click on the image and listen to the album mix of "Rasta Awake"!

Click..and listen !