CD Review: Luciano, Serious Times

by

[VP Records, 2004]

Luciano continues to be my favorite artist in the realm of cultural reggae inspiring me in many ways. I’ve been listening to this CD at work for the last 2 days almost non-stop so you can probably guess that I’m really digging on it right about now.

Dean Fraser handles most of the production. I was really impressed with what he did on Mikey General’s last album, and he does justice to Luci on this one as well. His productions tend to have a smoothness to them which I like: his horn arrangments, modern keyboard sounds, lush vocal harmonies, and most of the album features live instrumentation with only a few programmed tracks. The lineup of musicians is the cream of Jamaica’s high-grade players: Sly Dunbar, Robbie Lyn, Glen Browne, Dalton Browne, Mikey Chung, Gibby Morrison, Michael Fletcher, Mark Darson, along with Dean Fraser, Nambo, Junior Chin, and Dwight Richards on horns.

Here are a few thoughts about some of my favorites from the album:

Give Praise - The album opens up with a sweet hymn to His Majesty. The horns remind me of Burning Spear. You’ll find yourself singing this one down the road after hearing it.

Come Down Father – a sweet cover version of a Jose Feliciano tune. Nice to hear Mikey Chung plinking on guitar as he did with Black Uhuru so long ago.

Stay Away – “Jah children, stay away from war & strife!” On German band Seeed’s version of the Night Nurse riddim, also known as Doctor’s Darling. Interesting that this one includes a sample of GW Bush saying “this is the guy who tried to kill my dad,” refering of course to Saddam Hussein.

Just Talk to God – This one is too sweet!!! A one-drop with acoustic guitar and Fender Rhodes. “If you’re wondering when the light will shine on you, just talk to God.”

Satisfy Your Self - Nice lyrical concept on this one: “Satisfy yourself, don’t deny yourself, be alright with yourself and you’ll be alright. Always love yourself, do the same to someone else, always be true to yourself.” A frickin’ boomshot!!!!

Love Will Make It Happen – A sweet R&B tune with Gramps & Peter of Morgan Heritage. I love to see Luci branch out into other styles beyond reggae.

Echoes Of My Mind - Cover version of a “Everybody’s Talking” by Harry Nilsson from the 70s that works better than you would think it would, like walking down a Jamaican country road. Sweet bubbling organ by Wrong Move and  Bobby Digital producing with his nice bouncing mix.

Alpha & Omega – More churchical praises to the Father.

Serious Times, Serious Measures – Reminds me of his “Final Call.” “Mayday, mayday, lets make an effort to get together.” Wikked horns again.

This Feeling – “This feeling, touch my soul” which is what great reggae should do. Nice organ and horns again.

Jah Is My Keeper – Excerpts of Psalms/The Lord’s Prayer over a one-drop. Musical consciousness!

There have been countless singles that Luciano has released lately, but this is Luciano’s best work in the album format since his Great Controversy for Jet Star in 2001. There a few other songs on the album I like as well, but I didn’t want to go too far. Some sound samples are here on VPs page.

I give thanks for all the uplifting music that Luciano continues to give us for upliftment in times like these. I highly recommend this one.

According to his manager Copeland Forbes, he recently embarked on his most extensive tour to date. You may also want to check Gregory Stephens Luciano Retrospective as well.




Previous postCD Reviews: Editor's Picks of 2003 Next postCD Reviews: The Boot Box February 2004

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