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Joy Bells Ringing by Al Pancho

Joy Bells Ringing by Al Pancho

Joy Bells Ringing by Al Pancho

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Joyful deejay dancehall from Al Pancho and friends


The upbeat Jamaican deejay sound of Al Pancho (Owen Ricardo Brown) comes through as strong as ever on this release. This is his third album as a solo performer. Along the way he’s also been responsible for other interesting things, not least his vocal interpretation over the immortal ‘Fisherman’ rhythm for the 2006 release of 'Fisherman Style' by the Congos.

Released by Lustre Kings productions, this album features a range of guests including Luciano and the ubiquitous Lutan Fyah. Avowedly influenced by Shabba Ranks and Buju Banton, it’s also possible to detect here the influence of the earlier Jamaican deejay tradition, its infectious positive sound spreading the word through the music.

While a track such as Empress is mainstream digital dancehall, for the most part the instrumentation is early rhythmic dancehall style. The words within Al Pancho’s deejaying reflect the later dancehall reversion to roots themes of brotherhood and unity rather than urban conflict. This combination is just about right and adds up to something remarkably contemporary, given that the basic ingredients have been around for a good while. The backing track to More to Life (featuring Lutan Fyah) conjures up the conventional reggae tradition, its distinctive vocal gradually giving way to Pancho’s exuberant deejaying. Man of Truth (with Natty King) is a strong and familiar kind of rhythm, demonstrating that Pancho’s skills are at their best when working against the powerful vocals of one of his collaborators. There is a fast urgent feel to a song such as Paradise, while the title track amply sums up Al Pancho’s singjay approach.

The album closes in great style with Ithiopia, wherein Al Pancho is joined by Yami Bolo and Prince Bob. With its dub backing track and classic deejaying you almost expect U Roy to appear in the mix somewhere. He doesn’t, but this uplifting album is none the worse for that.

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