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Black Star presents Vivian Jones

Black Star presents Vivian Jones

Black Star presents Vivian Jones

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A First Class Album That Increases the Reggae Master’s Legacy.


Forget what know or think you know about Vivian Jones. Leave any image you have of the Jamaican-born, London-based singer as a lover’s rocker behind for a while.  Let Good Morning and Sugar Love lie in the past and go out and get Black Star Presents Vivian Jones. This is a vital and excellent roots reggae album that is a testament to the wide range of Vivian Jones’s ability and mastery.

This album took a long time to make. Vivian Jones would journey to Amsterdam or Utrecht, to Holland and Europe for festivals and concerts. Over the last few years would stop in to work at Black Star Foundation. There he teamed up with a suite of fine musicians including producer Eelco Kastermans aka Asher-E. Firehouse Crew contributed. For all the years it took to put together this recording, the album is internally consistent in sound and quality, and it gives us roots reggae, lover’s rock, and dub in ten cuts all of which are alive with the reggae beat.

Black StarVivian Jones’s voice is still as smooth as silk, though perhaps not quite the high tenor of the 70s, but perhaps even richer and more knowing. If ever a man was blessed with a gorgeous singing style and tenor it is Vivian Jones. This is not just lover’s rock; this is reggae music. In the opening cut, Chant Rastafari, later in Now They Are After Me, or in the masterful Bhingy Dready that velvet voice that evokes his Strong Love or Extra Classic Supa Fantastic is now applied to the praise of Rastarfari and to the awareness of the constant impinging of Babylon on the soul. (The funny thing is that Vivian Jones has always been a conscious singer, as many of his past album attest.)

Even in the two superb lover’s rock pieces, That Love and All My Life, Vivian Jones brings his A-game to the table. His voice is dedicated to his craft and to his gift for vocal expression. To me, these two pieces do not evoke the past—they seem alive and fresh and present. Vivian is not a man resting on his laurels, singing the old songs. If you had never heard of Vivian Jones, if you just put on Black Star Presents Vivian Jones and listen with an open mind, you wil lthink, wow this is a very fine roots album. To boot, you get two excellent dub versions of the lover’s rock songs as well as a ska cut in Want It Fi Nothin (with Spectacular), which could have very well have been a 60’s admonishment to a rude boy by Desmond Dekker or Dandy Livingstone.

Black Star Presents Vivian Jones is also about Holland’s Black Star Foundation. And about Jamaica’s Firehouse Crew. From the great horns in Now they are After Me to the jazzy sax interlude in That Love the music is roots rock solid. The riddims make you dance. Even Asher-E, whose production work is impeccable, contributes with wondrous melodica work. With Firehouse Crew backing and the Black Star’s musician contributing, the pieces are all of a very high caliber.

You would expect to hear the words, “The sun beats down upon your pretty face,” from Vivian Jones. But thirty four years after Good Morning made a generation of ladies feel OK about waking up in a man’s house (after all, he IS a very nice man), his style and emotion-packed delivery have lost none of their power to evoke feelings. Any yet the three best cuts on Black Star Presents Vivian Jones are the final three. The intense edge of cultural Bhingy Dready is followed by the spiritually haunting If the Tree Could Talk, and its dub companion. Asher-E has saved the best for last. Superb songs—but by the time you have gotten to the highlights of Black Star Presents Vivian Jones you have already seen Vivian Jones not as a man of the past but a powerful roots force of the present.

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