John Brown’s Body
[Easy Star, 2005]
Its members weaned as teens in the 80’s on classic 70’s roots reggae, John Brown’s Body has come of age in the 00’s, maturing into innovators building on the sturdy foundation laid down by Jamaican musicians of a generation ago.
Indeed, the Ithaca, NY based ensemble’s latest release, Pressure Points, presents 12 forward sounding tracks, reaffirming the band’s status as the premier purveyor of original reggae in the U.S.
While JBB’s 1996 debut, All Time (I-Town Records) was a solid and refreshing revisit to the “golden era” of the 70’s, each of the group’s four releases since then has produced progressively more experimental reggae without losing touch with the roots music which inspired the eight piece group’s existence.
Pressure Points kicks off with lyrical urgency over the laid back, nourishing groove of “Bread,” as JBB lead singer Kevin Kinsella takes on an apocolyptical yet hopeful tone: “We don’t have no time in this life to lose…This could be the last trumpet. You better kneel and pray. This could be the first calling for the end of the days…Jah is mighty and he rules over nations. We have control of the riddim. We have control of the vibe.”
Utilizing straight ahead reggae beats, “Heart and Soul” and “Blazing Love” cover personal yet universal observations of the power of love. Meanwhile, “New Blood” employs an electronic drum intro remarkably similiar to the intro of Bob Marley’s “Natty Dread” before turning up the tempo several notches, creating a catchy, upbeat tune in the process.
“Full Control” is another cheerful number with the reassuring chorus, “God is in full control.” The aptly titled “Resonate” features a bubbly horn section and a bass line as insistant as a famished Doberman demanding dinner.
The deliberate dramatics on the backing track coupled with Kinsella’s emotional vocals of “I cry and I cry and I cry. There’s not enough” on “Not Enough” match the intensity, if not the pace, of Joseph Hill’s “I tried and I tried and I tried and I tried to make them understand” on Culture’s “I Tried” (International Herb, Virgin Records, 1979).
The disc reveals a contemporary roots squadron as adept as any expert acupuncturist in relieving the “Pressure Points” encountered in daily life. With five quality releases under its collective belt, JBB is poised to emerge as a name brand reggae band on the international stage.
For more information about the CD and the band, click here.