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Morgan Heritage - Here Come The Kings

Morgan Heritage - Here Come The Kings

Morgan Heritage - Here Come The Kings

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A muscular workout of a record: exuding a maturity that befits the group's lengthy recharge.


When United Reggae asked Morgan Heritage recently about the character of their first album in five years, lead-singer Peetah Morgan warned it would include fewer surprises than their rock-infused pre-hiatus statement 'Mission in Progress'. “I don’t think anyone will be surprised” he answered “I think people will be fulfilled. There’s a yearning for a certain thing so we couldn’t just come leftfield and do something totally different from what people want”. He and his brother Gramps described the then unreleased record, respectively, as “classic” and “authentic” in sound.

Morgan Heritage - Here Come The KingsAs signposted by last year’s five track taster EP the Return, the Morgans’ appraisal of 'Here Come The Kings' turns out to be bang on the money. Explosive opener Man Has Forgotten begins with Gramps’ crying catchphrase “Rockaz” over a loop of the intro to Lloyd ParksOfficially, put to thunderous hip-hop beats by Kymani Marley’s musical director Jason Farmer. It’s immediately clear that timeless sounds rather than cheap heartstrings or risky genre-bending are at the fore.

The first section is swaggering substantial roots music – with an unusually high level of bass for a Morgan Heritage or any modern Jamaican reggae album. The Survival-era-Marley-reminiscent title-track has the only concession to distorted guitar in an uncharacteristically restrained only slightly widdly-diddly solo. Roots and the need to reclaim or find them figure strongly in the words of one third of the material. The busy vocal interplay, ornate harmonies and hooks are still around yet they fit snugly over these stripped down clean rhythms without feeling like the “reggaeness” is being diluted away.

We also hear a fair helping of the band’s other key ingredient. Soft soulful serenades with rooftop choruses include Call To Me, Love Stoned featuring Shaggy, and the Linton White produced post EP single Perfect Love Song. But there’s a thumping power to the latter during Gramps deejay bars on the heavy minor key verse, and despite the usual ensemble of producers, there’s no jarring break with the overall feel. The need to reassure that the group is back is at its most obvious in the catchy reality lyrics of Ends Nah Meet on Don Corleon’s Scriptures rhythm - a sonically similar sequel of sorts to past hits Nothing To Smile About and Tell Me How Come.

And the family’s USA/JA heritage is still apparent. While Peetah’s sugary citrusy tenor is at the forefront, percussionist Mojo raps, and keyboardist Gramps bellows and chants. Late 70s style integrationist anthem Holla asks if the Obama presidency has struck the final blow against segregation. It’s easy for reggae purists to sneer at the Van Halen and Kenny Rogers influences in some of the siblings’ earlier work. But this is in fact one of the few groups to consistently defy the pre internet segregationist pop market where you're either into “white music” (rock) or “black music” (rap) and the crossover bridge was often closed at one end.

At twelve tracks trimmed of fat this is as back-to-basics as the lavish and unashamedly commercial quintet have been in a decade. Though their sound may still be too radio-friendly for a certain type of reggae fan, this set is as consistent as a collection of their best singles. There's not much we haven't heard before - but that's surely the point? A muscular workout of a record: exuding a maturity that befits the group’s lengthy recharge.

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Read comments (1)

Posted by on 06.17.2013
The Royal Family of Reggae, strictly niceness!!! love the review, no rush ting, mad!

Comments actually desactivated due to too much spams

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