CD Review: Stephen West, Take A Rough Life Easy

Stephen WestHigh-Light Records
www.emphasisentertainment.com

Well, here’s yet another reggae album full of warnings and advice on how we should live our lives. Ready? “Take a rough life easy” (track 1); “we should live good, especially in our neighborhood” (track 2); “forget your problems” (track 3); “stick together and be strong” (track 4); “our people don’t want to help each other” (track 5); “we work together as one single soul”(track 6); “your worst enemy can be your best friend” (track 7); “trust God almighty” (track 9).

I remember “respect one another” and “take one step at a time” as being in there somewhere too, along with various other helpful hints. As for the two missing tracks, West’s advice is slightly less direct, but the implication is there: “I’m not giving up although the time is rough” (track #8) and “give me the faith, I pray, to keep me from day to day” (track #10).

As you see, the disc is a bit heavy in the “do this” department, and I assume “take out the papers and the trash” got missed only because The Coasters still have the rights to that particular line. But hey, lyrics aren’t everything, and the actual music is as attractive as any I’ve heard in a while.

West’s voice is a unique, soulful combination of eagerness, desperation and pleading, entirely suitable for his tuneful songs. The backing trio of female voices does the call-and-response thing perfectly; there’s some great electric guitar now and then, and the varied reggae rhythms are by turn bouncy, funky, sticky, breezy, or quietly supportive, as required.

So now it’s my turn to tell you what to do: a) Give this album a listen. b) Follow some of its advice, i.e. the bits that make sense to you. c) Be happy.



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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