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Brinsley Forde - Urban Jungle

Brinsley Forde - Urban Jungle

Brinsley Forde - Urban Jungle

By on - 2 comments

The world has been waiting for a Brinsley Forde album and this is well worth the wait.


Former child TV star and Aswad singer Brinsley Forde has kept a solo album in gestation with Sly and Robbie for several years with no release date in sight. Now that project has been overtaken in the slow race to deliver a Brinsley longplayer by the highly-touted Dutch double-team of Jahsolidrock and Not Easy At All Productions. It's an album of which all involved can be proud.

Brinsley Forde - Urban JungleUnlike April’s Chezidek outing by Jahsolidrock and House of Riddim, 'Urban Jungle' returns to the familiar Not Easy At All sound. Crafted by Marc Baronner and mixed by Manu Genius it is organic but glossily produced with smooth horns and vast choral backing vocals. Ironically, on past releases these backups had a tendency to recall the 80s recordings of another of Britain's legendary experimental reggae outfits - Steel Pulse. This time fluid voiced Pulse singer David Hinds is actually present - serving up one of his vintage eye witness accounts of slavery’s cultural erosion on duet Chillin’. The results can sound like the fan fantasy combination of Brinsley singing lead in his old group’s major rival band.

The hard and forbidding title 'Urban Jungle' is a caveat for the raw reality messages inside. Sodom and Gomorrah deals with the 2011 Tottenham Riots. She Don't Wanna Try tells the heart rending story of a daughter’s terrible diagnosis. Herbal reminiscence Blaze It Up is a timely reminder of just how big an influence Brinsley's vocals were on currently touring New Zealand outfit Katchafire - whose love of herb and Aswad are well documented. The title track knowingly mixes the brass line from Aswad’s Love Fire with Warrior Charge – as used in the soundtrack for Franco Rosso’s classic film Babylon. Forde even successfully experiments with autotune (an alleged point of contention in the Sly and Robbie sessions) on One of Those Days and Ethiopia’s rich musical heritage on Shewodun (with the extraordinary vibrato of Bethlehem Gzate).

The world has been waiting for a Brinsley Forde album and this is well worth the wait. Not Easy At All’s dreamy yet up-tempo reggae rhythms paired with Brinsley’s songwriting offers a possible glimpse of what might have happened had Aswad updated their late 80s sound without their successful digital pop direction. It should also hopefully offer encouragement to get that Sly and Robbie record out for us to hear. 

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Read comments (2)

Posted by Bellyman on 07.29.2013
Truly and officially, this is the album of the year.

Posted by Manu Genius on 08.05.2013
Agreed! Thanks Angus Taylor and Bellyman!

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