Album review
VP Records-Walboomers Music
May 04, 2004

Tracking list

  1. Sanctuary
  2. Down Town
  3. Creatures Of The Night
  4. Light It Up
  5. Pleasing People
  6. Arms Of A Woman
  7. Liberian Woman
  8. Lonely featuring Niki Burt
  9. One Tin Soldier
  10. Every Day
  11. Light House
  12. Signs
  13. 77 Times 7
  14. Wicked Man
  15. Talkative
  16. A-Merry Mecca
  17. Mother Earth
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

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

Bushman's name was put on the reggae map via his top 10 chart hit "Call The Hearse" from 1996. The social commentary of this wicked tune was later followed up by the peace anthem "Remember The Days". The baritone roots singer then built his name in the reggae further with hits like "Grow Your Natty", "Fire Pon A Weak Heart", Fire Pon A Deadas" and "Fill My Cup", to name a few. Besides singles he released four albums (not counting a live set and a "Toe2Toe" set with Luciano) of which his 1997 released debut album "Nyah Man Chant" set a new standard for contemporary roots reggae singers. "Signs" - the follow up to the truly outstanding King Jammys produced "Higher Ground" set - is the much anticipated brand new album from Bushman. Produced by Dwight Duncan aka Bushman himself (with Colin Levy of "Kings of Kings"as executive producer) "Signs" features one hundred percent live musical instrument laid tracks. This was accomplished by Bushman's backing band Grass Roots, Sly & Robbie, Dean Fraser and Ian "Beezy" Coleman among others. Also involved in the creation of this set were Bobby "Digital" Dixon, Barry O'Hare and Steven Stanley, all three being credited as mixing engineer. "Signs” was recorded in Jamaica at some of the best studios on the Island: Tuff Gong, Anchor Studio, Steven Stanley Studio on Red Hills Road, and Roy Francis' Mixing Lab. Featured are mostly original riddims and there’s some lovers thrown in too, like e.g. the combination tune with Niki Burt titled "Lonely. The most ear-catching tunes are the recent single "Down Town", which features the backing vocals of The Mighty Diamonds, "Creatures Of The Night", "Pleasing People", the one drop tune "77 Times 7" and "Wicked Man". Besides these entertaining tracks we're also treated to a cover song with a strong c&w vibe called "One Tin Soldier", one of the pop hits of the '70s, originally from The Original Caste, but then made a huge hit by The Coven. It shows that country and western is one of his major influences and Kenny Rogers one of his favourite singers. The title track "Signs" has a funk-style with an R&B vibe and obviously is intended to crossover. For "Lighthouse" Bushman utilizes a vocal delivery that sounds suspiciously like Peter Tosh, the latter along with Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, and Sanchez one of the singer's great influences. The album rounds off with "Mother Earth", featuring the singer playing acoustic guitar and percussion.
With "Higher Ground" in mind expectations were raised high for this follow-up set, but unfortunately "Signs" doesn't fully live up to these expectations. Not that "Signs" isn't a decent album, it is.., but our overall feeling is that it could have been much better. Some tunes sound too laid back as they definitely lack some characteristic ingredients of his earlier works like e.g. the militancy, the drive and the conviction.

Teacher & Mr. T.