Wednesday, December 23, 1998

Third Generation

Posted By on Wed, Dec 23, 1998 at 12:00 AM

For a record which is essentially two guys in the studio, the arrangements found on Third Generation sound pretty full and on the mark. Of course, with two multi-instrumentalists in the house, throwin' down the full sound ain't that hard. Wilburn (Squiddly) Cole — drummer for Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers — and Ras Kente — a Detroit reggae forefather — team up here for some essential work that's a must-have for reggae fans. Unfortunately the disc starts with a couple OK-but-not-so-distinctive tracks in the conventional roots idiom. It's on the only cover tune they do ("Ain't No Sunshine") that things start to percolate. When Squiddly starts toasting, you know you're in the islands. From there things don't let up. "Reggae Meets Motown" is an unrelenting instrumental groove that should fuel many a DJ's booty-shakin' delivery. With Squiddly on drums and bass and Kente's restrained wahwah guitar a modern twist on the elemental rock trio transpires. The same approach comes through on "Earnest Raglin" except Kente takes the bass and lets his guitar stretch out a bit more. Melodic quotes from "Strawberry Fields" make this the more heady and blissed-out cut. This is generally high-minded stuff with titles such as "Spiritual Fighting," "Spiritual Dub" and "Song for the Poorman"(sic) evidencing a close relationship with consciousness reggae and the Bob Marley tradition. Another link to that stream comes in the presence of Wailers' keyboardist Earl (Wire) Lindo on two tracks ("Throne of God," "Higher Wire"). With Bob's keyboardist and Ziggy's drummer, it's a tribute to Kente's immense guitar skills that this music even happened. And it's easy to hear where they are coming from.

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