not a member? click here to sign up
Roots Reggae from the Emerald Isle
Colm O Hare, 28 Aug 2012
Perhaps it’s because we like to think of ourselves as a “downtrodden, oppressed” people, but the one-time Irish love affair with reggae has to be one of the more unlikely musical and cultural affinities. Time was no festival bill here was complete without a major reggae act: Steel Pulse with U2 at the Phoenix Park on the War tour is one that comes to mind. And then there were those legendary reggae nights at the TV Club in Harcourt St. back in the ‘80s when acts like Sugar Minott and Black Uhuru appeared on a weekly basis.
While artists such Damien Dempsey have always acknowledged their appreciation for Bob Marley, few homegrown outfits dared to explore the deeper side of the genre. The appropriately monikered J Roots – aka Johnny Quinn, who wrote, arranged produced and mixed this entire affair – is one such soul however. Steeped in the music and culture of Jamaica and its London offshoot, he was involved with the London-based Keltic Posse and now fronts this hugely authentic sounding crew. Claiming influences from the likes of King Tubby, The Scientist, Ijahman Levi, Lee Perry, with hints too of Culture, J Roots are certainly the nearest thing to the real deal on this side of the Caribbean.
From the opener ‘See Them Run’, with its skanky horn arrangement and floor-shaking bassline to the sirens and street sounds of ‘A Dub Inna London’, and the polemical ‘Rich Man Poor Man’, Soapbox Fury is a triumph. Adding a little sugar into the mix, is the sweet soulful voice of Kitty B, who guests on several tracks including the gentler lovers rock of ‘Players’ and ‘Plus Jamais (Never Again)’
Dublin Dub indeed! Bring it on...