Reggae Party: A Reggae Session- Wailing Souls- The Skints

by Kevin Wierzbicki

Our Reggae Party begins with a look at a star-stacked film from 32-years ago, featuring Toots Hibbert and many others.

A Reggae Session (Concert film)
Here's a very cool look back at the reggae scene from 1988. The concert took place in historic Fort Charles near Kingston, Jamaica and features about an hour's-worth of performance from Jamaican stars like Bunny Wailer, Jimmy Cliff, Toots Hibbert, Ziggy Marley and Sly & Robbie along with Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, the Neville Brothers and Carlos Santana. The show opens with a take on Bob Marley's "Buffalo Soldier" performed by I-Threes, Marley's former back-up vocalists, one of whom is his widow Rita Marley. Every song here is a highlight, some of which are Bunny Wailer with "Roots, Radics, Rockers and Reggae," Ziggy Marley playing his brand-new-at-the-time "Conscious Party," Hynde purring to "Wait in Vain" and growling on the Peter Tosh hit "Steppin' Razor," and Grace Jones, a native Jamaican, singing "My Jamaican Guy." A highlight among highlights is a high-energy performance from the late Toots Hibbert who sings a soulful version of John Denver's "Country Roads," changing the lyrics to say "West Jamaica" instead of "West Virginia." The beloved star further whips the crowd into a frenzy with the Nelson Mandela-inspired "54-46 Was My Number." The Neville Brothers are joined by Santana for "My Blood in South Africa" and "It Ain't No Use," and Jimmy Cliff plays "Hanging Fire" while a fire-eater roams the stage. The closing number is a rendition of Cliff's "The Harder They Come" where all the stars return to the stage to help Jimmy with the grand finale. Four local bands back-up the stars and acts are presented one immediately after the other, and the fun that the performers and audience had thoroughly translates to the film viewer.

Wailing Souls - Back A Yard
The Wailing Souls have been around for more than five decades which means they were around during the "golden age of reggae," the era when Bob Marley and friends came into popularity. Fans of the sounds of that era will love "Down in Trench Town," a sublime groove recalling a youth spent in an often-maligned part of Kingston (band members sang on Marley's "Trench Town Rock".) Set to a gentle piano melody, "Look What's Happening" is a gospel-flavored advisement to chill out and love each other. "All about You" and "This is the Time," with a few dub effects, are easy skankin' numbers suitable for a slow reggae dance or a couch cuddle. Noted reggae artist and longtime Wailing Souls fan Alborosie produced the 10-song album and he joins in on "Shark Attack" where good life advice about watching your back is doled out.

The Skints - Live at Electric Brixton
Considering that to be "skint" means to be broke, it is amusing that this beloved English band begins this live set with "Can't Take No More" which includes the lyric "I can't get any money for the music I play." It doesn't take long for the band to break out some ska, urging the crowd to dance to "Lay You Down," further urging the audience to get loose at the beginning of the perky ska of "Rubadub (Done Know)" with "let's turn this place into Brixton Zoo and the animals have escaped!" "Ratatat/No No No" has toasting and lots of dub effects while "What Did I Learn Today," from the band's Swimming Lessons album, proves to be perfect reggae/pop. One of the band's hallmarks is the use of both male and female vocalists, and with some dub effects added, their sound really comes together on album highlight "This Town." This generous set is very satisfying and a reggae-fied version of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" near set's end will be especially appreciated.

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