Soldiers of Jah Army
[SOJA Music, 2002 ]
Once upon a time, way back in a former millennium, there was a highly popular band known as The Rascals—a bunch of young east coast white guys who listened to the black music all around them (soul, R&B), learned from it, learned to do it, and gave it back again, very successfully. Now, in this millennium, we have S.O.J.A. They perform a militant reggae that lashes out against the USA government, pleads for justice and understanding, praises Rastafari. They work in the Washington-Baltimore area on the US east coast. They’re very good.
So I admit that Soldiers Of Jah Army, the group, has credibility. These guys have opened for Burning Spear, Culture, Toots, Israel Vibration and other top reggae artists. But good grief, they look young and naïve and yes, white, in the photo on the back of this album. They’ve got the authoritative chops and the authoritative name—they just don’t have the authoritative appearance to match, at least not in that photo. Ah well, grey-beards don’t appear overnight, so for now, simply listen and enjoy, even if it means having to turn the photo face down and fantasizing.
And what is it you’ll be enjoying with “Peace in a Time of War,” the band’s first full CD? Convincing, rootsy reggae; socially conscious lyrics; varied arrangements and tempos; passionate singing—that’s what. One particular standout song (“Rasta Courage”) in the midst of 14 other listenable songs, that’s what else. Plus intriguing front cover art, some well-placed toasting and a video (assuming you have the software to play the “enhanced” part of this enhanced CD). That should be enough to please any reggae fan, even those who might occasionally get too hung up on appearances.