...will bring considerable happiness and comfort to devotees of traditional reggae.
Alwyn Turner 2004
With a combined age of over 100, reggae veterans Horace Andy and Neil 'Mad Professor' Fraser have little left to prove and no great need to break any more musical ground. In their own rights, they have been doing just that for decades: singer Andy moving effortlessly from the soft sounds of the 70s into dancehall, and London-based producer Mad Professor pioneering electronic dub.
Their paths crossed under the influence of Massive Attack in the early-90s, with whom both collaborated extensively. The association brought them together as a double-act with 1995's Life Is For Living and 1997's Roots and Branches. They return here with a collection ofmostlynew tunet thataren'tgoing to set the world alight, but will bring considerable happiness and comfort to devotees of traditional reggae.
It opens with the quite marvellous "Babylon Bridge". Andy's fragile voice is in top form as he righteously observes the 'Weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth', while horns chant, a flute swirls and guitars echo off into the distance. It sounds like a lost classic from the 70s and promises great things.
Thereafter, however, the tone quietens down considerably. The bulk of the remaining tracks offer a much more limited musical palette and, while attractive enough, don't quite sparkle as much as one might hope. A surprise highlight comes ona cover version of Sandie Shaw's 1964 track, "Girl, Don't Come", that bizarrely hints at Euro-disco. Lyrically, meanwhile, Andy is on a familiar ground with acombination of love songs and Rasta protest, that will resonate with those still cherishing their Virgin Front Line albums.
The brightest moments come when the production drops in some dub touches, nowhere more so than on the fine closer, "Change Your Ways", where the aching vocals float across great expanses of echoing space.
Two classics, one surprise and a handful of half-decent tracks; it's not a bad return for a couple of guys in their fifties.