[Sunvibe Records, 2003]

If you like what I like, you will thoroughly enjoy 68 of the 77 minutes of “African Gold.” To go one step further, if you like what I like PLUS syrupy love songs, then every second of the album will be pure pleasure. So the real question is whether we like the same stuff, apart from syrupy love songs.

Therefore, here is my list of “likes” as it relates to this particular album. One, the roots reggae flavour, with varied but emphatic rhythms throughout. Two, the creative musical arrangements—a percussive knocking here, a jaunty synthesizer figure there, a nice little guitar riff somewhere else. Three, the gentle lead vocals, and I mean an Ijahman Levi degree of gentleness. Four, the unique yet accessible tunes, most with memorable choruses. Five, the tasty toasting at appropriate intervals. Six, the thick lyric booklet. Seven, the several new slants on familiar lyrical themes. Eight, the fact that the two bleech love songs are immediately followed by two mature, engaging and non-sappy love songs. Nine through twelve, the lively soca feel, brief Spanish rap, brief female vocal lead and high-grade catchiness of “High Grade”. Thirteen, the concluding instrumental version of an earlier song that’s really just an excuse for an electric guitar workout. And fourteen, the artist’s name. I’ll try to convince my wife to name our next kid “Flabba”. Anyway, that describes most of what I like about “African Gold.” Do we like the same stuff? Close?

Speaking of the artist, no, he isn’t Mr. Holt of Roots Radics fame. This is Alton Hugh “Flabba” Simpson: born in Jamaica 50 years ago, resident in Europe from childhood, operates out of Germany, has released two previous solo albums, also connected with the group New Culture.

According to his Web site, those are the basic facts about Flabba. As for me, I can confirm only that he possesses great talent and has evidently attracted the right people around him to let that talent shine brightly. Like African Gold.