Horace Andy & Ashley Beedle Inspiration Information, Volume 2 Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Musical adventures like these are exactly what he needs.

Angus Taylor 2009

Any project which shares a name with Shuggie Otis' psychedelic soul masterpiece Inspiration Information risks being a relative disappointment. Even so, Horace Andy and Ashley Beedle's second set in Strut Records collaborative series acquits itself reasonably well, especially since it was thrown down in just five days.

Where its predecessor, featuring Sly & Robbie and Amp Fiddler, fell short of the sum of its parts, with Fiddler sounding half asleep throughout, there is a more palpable chemistry between the Jamaican singer and his London producer.

Andy's voice is still in great nick and here he holds notes far longer than usual before reverting to his trademark dried honey vibrato. Ashley's spare, atmospheric grooves underpin him nicely, although some hover meekly in-between funky floor filler and dubby ambience.

Horace seems most comfortable with the simple persistent bass lines of the close harmony based Watch Me and Babylon Don't Lose, which playfully borrows the bass motif from Clive Hunt's Jah Jah Bless I.

The two cover versions (the Wailers' Hypocrites and The Stones' Angie) are also strong, augmenting Horace and Ashley’s time pressured talents with their carefully crafted chords.

Single Rasta Don't is essentially a list of animals vegetarians don’t eat but the renaming of KFC as ''Kenf**kry'' and McDonalds as ''McDutty'' flexes the wicked wit of Rasta 'word sound power'. The Light's vaguely Eastern strings are the album's only egregious misfire, sounding blandly global and a little passé.

Horace Andy is the best known of reggae's mellifluous falsetto voices, having worked fruitfully with Coxsone and Bunny Lee in the 70s, Lloyd Barnes in the 80s and Massive Attack in the 90s to name just four. However, his PR image as the cuddly right-on roots man misleads.

His outspoken dislike of both retro sounds and the censorship of his less than liberal lyrics, suggest a free spirit who – rightly or wrongly – strains to do his own thing. More studio time wouldn't have gone amiss, but it's clear that musical adventures like these are exactly what he needs.

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