CD Review: General Jah Mikey, Lyrical Ambassador Vol. 2

I can’t help pondering the concept of “bonus tracks”. Five of them appear on “Lyrical Ambassador, Volume 2,” and hey, I’m glad they’re there, but they’re not significantly different in theme, approach or execution from the ten proceeding tracks. They certainly don’t extend the listening experience to an unusual length (just shy of 50 minutes including the extras). And as far as I know, this is not a re-issue that has to be supplemented by additional stuff from the vaults to cajole you into buying essentially the same album all over again. But when you get down to it, the term “bonus tracks” is always a contrivance, a marketing ploy. An attempted bribe, in fact.

Okay, I’ll stop worrying about my petty concern. It’s just that General Jah Mikey has enough to offer that his audience should not have to be bribed through ad-speak. And what does he offer? With only one and a half exceptions, he’s the songwriter. He does the lead vocal for all tracks. He also does all the background vocals except for one notable Sugar Minott contribution. He is the producer or co-producer for everything; he’s responsible for most of the arrangements too. In fact, General Jah Mikey is directly accountable for probably 90% of what you hear on this album.

By and large, the music is the synthesized, drum-programmed kind of contemporary reggae that you probably either love or hate, but real instruments do make their presence known and appreciated. The arrangements are spare, sometimes uninspired but sometimes original and unexpected—sparkling here, sultry there, militant elsewhere. The song writing is reasonably varied, with a Johnny Osbourne song, “Nothing Tried (Nothing Done)” fitting perfectly into the flow. And as for the lyrics, the lyrics are clean, mostly alternating between sincere praise for the greatness of Jah and bombastic praise for the greatness of General Jah Mikey. And you know, he (the General) isn’t far off in his self-estimation.

Bonus paragraph: This album did not emanate from some alter-ego of Mikey General. Two different guys. To over-simplify, think of Mikey General as a roots singer; think of General Jah Mikey as a dancehall deejay. Think of them both positively.

 



About Ted Boothroyd :

Ted has enjoyed music all his increasingly lengthy life. He has gone through various favorite artists along the way, from his mommy crooning lullabies at crib side to his dad singing folk songs on car trips to The Everly Brothers to Ian and Sylvia to The Dave Brubeck Quartet to The Lovin’ Spoonful to The Kinks to The Miracles to Ravi Shankar to Tchaikovsky to Pentangle to Miriam Makeba to The Red Army Chorus and Band to Captain Beefheart to Gilbert and Sullivan to The McGarrigle Sisters to The Clash to Louis Jordan to The Flying Bulger Klezmer Band to Manu Chao. He has trouble choosing favorites when it comes to reggae - that fixation has been too longstanding and too complete. Ted started writing about music late in 2002 with a book review in The Beat, continuing with book and album reviews until the magazine's untimely passing. His association with Jahworks.org dates back to 2003, and he has hosted a couple of radio shows featuring reggae and "world music". Ted also sculpts in plaster and wood. | View all posts by Ted Boothroyd

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Ted has enjoyed music all his increasingly lengthy life. He has gone through various favorite artists along the way, from his mommy crooning lullabies at crib side to his dad singing folk songs on car trips to The Everly Brothers to Ian and Sylvia to The Dave Brubeck Quartet to The Lovin’ Spoonful to The Kinks to The Miracles to Ravi Shankar to Tchaikovsky to Pentangle to Miriam Makeba to The Red Army Chorus and Band to Captain Beefheart to Gilbert and Sullivan to The McGarrigle Sisters to The Clash to Louis Jordan to The Flying Bulger Klezmer Band to Manu Chao. He has trouble choosing favorites when it comes to reggae - that fixation has been too longstanding and too complete.

Ted started writing about music late in 2002 with a book review in The Beat, continuing with book and album reviews until the magazine's untimely passing. His association with Jahworks.org dates back to 2003, and he has hosted a couple of radio shows featuring reggae and "world music". Ted also sculpts in plaster and wood.

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