Comes over like a house party DJ with a very adventurous selection policy.
Lloyd Bradley 2009
Although much is made of this group’s international musical style – chiefly dub and roots reggae from Jamaica, and funky and pop soul from the southern US – their most pertinent aspect lies in their Englishness, and the UK music scene’s peculiar capacity to ‘borrow’ from all over the place then craftily customise to fit that new situation.
With a line-up that includes representatives of such singular Britishness as two former Specials (Lynval Golding and Horace Panter), Ghost Town’s producer (Sean Flowerdew), Pop Will Eat Itself’s drummer (Fuzz Townshend) and a trumpeter who hires out to Kasabian (Gary Aylesbrook), it’s hardly surprising that their songbook is filtered through a variety of unique musical domesticity. Less expected, however, is the subtlety with which this realignment occurs.
Thanks to a solid grounding in and understanding of the genres they are working in, Pama International can create a solid enough foundation to allow them to shape and soften the edges in keeping with its circumstances. As a result, hard-stepping roots tunes like Equality & Justice for All or Still I Wait, or the sanctified soul of Are We Saved Yet?, or smooth Studio One-type reggae such as What You Do Now, Dub A Dance and Dub A Disco, becomes far less of a challenge than the originals might prove, but lose none of the essence. It’s a move that will keep hardcore fans happy, yet sound familiar and inviting enough for much wider acceptability.
Even more attractive than that is the sense of continuity within a collection of seemingly disparate styles, as such crafty customising gives a defined feel to the entire tracklist. This allows it to fit together perfectly, regardless of how far the running order jumps across genres.
Hence Pama Outernational comes across like a house party deejayed by somebody with a very deft touch and an altogether adventurous selection policy – after a couple of tunes you’re not at all sure what you’re going to hear next, but you know enough to trust it implicitly.