Tough Enough
Various / Far East Band
Four Music-Sony BMG
October 26, 2007

Track list
  1. Prince Of Peace with D-Flame
  2. Dache (In Praise Of Mother Earth) with Blain Pawlos
  3. Cool Vibe with Eased
  4. Wield It with Tanya Stephens
  5. Money's Back In Town with Moneybrother
  6. How We Do It with Chuck Fenda
  7. Nuh Hesitate with Gentleman
  8. Why You Wanna Be A Badman with Tippa Irie
  9. The Call Up with Suzie
  10. Opa Erzählt Vom Krieg with Fettes Brot
  11. Chillax Radio Jingle
  12. A Better Day with Daddy Rings
  13. Waiting with Pete Fisher
  14. Time with Mamadee & Tamika
  15. Sista Bluesen with Johanna & Dean Fraser
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4 Backing : 4/5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 3/4
Everyone who ever saw Gentleman perform live with his Far East Band, knows what a great band the Far East Band - that in full comprises Johanna Järemo on sax, André Heyer on bass, Marco Baresi on drums, Pete Fisher on guitar, Andreas Wendland on guitar, Peter Hirsch on keys, Steffen Zimmer on trumpet and Rob Gutowski on trombone is, completed by the three great backing vocalists Blain Pawlos, Mamadee and Gentleman's queen Tamika. And with this album the Berlin/Leipzig/Cologne Far East Band for the first time releases an album that doesn't carry the 'Gentleman and ... ' on its cover.

A lot of great tunes and a just couple of less impressive efforts make up this album, that kicks off great with D-Flame's take on the 1966 Prince Buster All Stars tune "Prince Of Peace" and Blain Pawlos showing her soul, gospel and African (she stayed for time in Ethiopia) influences in the truly beautiful "Dache (In Praise Of Mother Earth)" and Seeed's Eased being the last of the three vocalists from that brilliant Berlin band proving he is the most roots oriented one of the pack with the very nice "Cool Vibe", on which The Far East Band is so much really supporting him, that this tune could easily be one of the more relaxed rootsy tunes on a Seeed album.

It's always a pleasure to hear Jamaica's female dancehall singer-songwriter Tanya Stephens, especially when the tune is as good as this "Wield It" for which Gentleman cowrote the music with Marco Baresi backing Tanya's strong lyrics. Scandinavian soulrockbrother Anders Wendin a.k.a. Moneybrother might be the odd one out (at least one of them) on this album, but the magnificent soul (with just a slight reggae influence) "Money's Back In Town" is a standout track, followed by Chuck Fender being completely on top of the very nice Marco Baresi penned riddim in "How We Do It" and the man on whose label Bushhouse Music this album is released and who is normally the frontman of The Far East Band Gentleman of course is featured as vocalist as well on the strong "Nuh Hesitate". The best tune on this album however is courtesy of Tippa Irie, whose dancehall killer "Why You Wanna Be A Badman" is guaranteed to move every dancehall crowd.

Another non-reggae vocalist is Klee's Suzie (Kerstgens) whose take on The Clash' "The Call Up" (from their classic 1980 triple album "Sandinista") doesn't do anything for me, for which is made up by the extremely strange yet moving love song "Opa Erzählt Vom Krieg" meaning grandpa tells about the war by German hip hop crew Fettes Brot, also contributing the rather unnecessary skit "Chillax Radio Jingle". "A Better Day" is a great tune by Daddy Rings showing he has kept the high level of his sophomore album "The Most High" for this tune alongside The Far East Band, who then back their guitar player Pete Fisher over a great horn driven riddim with great backing vocals, but his lead vocal in "Waiting" just isn't my cup of tea.

The other two female singers of The Far East Band Mamadee & Tamika share the lead on the wonderful "Time" before the album is closed with an instrumental tune "Sista Bluesen" on which saxophone player Johanna Järemo duels in free jazz style with living Jamaican saxophone legend Dean Fraser in very fine style. This a very nice album, that however could have been a bit better, but I surely am not only looking forward to the next album on which they are backing Gentleman again, but also to a successor of this album with only top voicings of the great riddims The Far East Band delivers.