Two reviews from the French magazine - 'Ragga'  

Contact : Ragga, 11, Rue de Cambrai Bat 28, 75168 PARIS , CEDEX 19, France.

 

Man Cool Rides Again (PATCD02) - Various Artists - Published September 2005

The "old school" British music scene isnít one of the most prolific anymore, but it still brings a few surprises now and again. This CD, with its own early reggae style, is a prime example. Strictly speaking, the 7 tracks donít really constitute a new album. Basically it's a disc made up of versions in which Johnny Rench and Nevil Banton take control. Two instrumentals, the first with the harmonica of Steve Taylor leading, the second with the brass section of The Spearmint Rhino Horns, both, equally, redefine the rhythms from the first album. The Erin Bardwell Collective also offer an alternative version of a track from their first album. Those of you who particularly enjoy the early material of The Ethiopians and that rhythmic organ style will be at home with this sound. And as for the atmosphere created by Johnny Rench's Your Mama Donít Know, that brings a few memories back of melancholy vocals that remind me of reggae in a Specials style. In the traditional reggae spirit, this EP's sound is also very similar to the style of French band The Elements. Like the latter Ė whom we hope we can talk about soon Ė the Pop-A-Top record label nurture a love for the original reggae sounds. The album cover leaves no doubt about this. All in all, these are bands worth supporting, because they donít follow the mainstream paths of Jamaican music, and this in itself is an admirable effort. The next release of this still very private label, will be an album by singer Recoldo Fleming, which was apparently recorded in Jamaica. With a certain relaxed class, these versions are full of style and make this warm mix of rhythms and harmonies a perfect remedy against stress.

EVER REY D

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The Erin Bardwell Collective - Volume One (PATCD01) Published spring 2004

New English bands are coming out every month. Surprising isn't it? Not as surprising as the content of this album though, whose leader was kind enough to send it to us. In any case, well played (in every sense of the term) because it deserves to be listened to and to get the appreciation that it's due. Why do such projects not benefit from any media promotion in their own country which continues to spew out new pop groups every 6 months or so? Reference wise, we are quite in the dark, unless one knows of Sir Bardwell's misbehaviours in The Skanxters, post 2-Tone band that wasn't so cheeky. Fortunately, the present  "all stars" project of this adept Hammond player and his many friends bears no comparison. It is in fact a true revelation, that conjugates together melodic, ambient British pop with tonic rhythms straight out of a 60's and early 70's Jamaica. The result reveals itself to be seductive in it's variety and undeniable personality. Whilst the EBC plays early reggae, they sound authentic without trying to 'be Jamaican', almost as if from another dimension. 

The style, sown with familiar points of reference, sometimes placed in unexpected ways, follows it's own path through a diversity of eras. We carefully recall the musical influences that have long linked England with her ex-colonies. When these musicians choose a roots option there's no risk of them sinking to the level of such cliches (they avoid the re-quotes inspired by Bob, Spear or Steele Pulse). Instead there is a wink towards Horace Andy at Studio 1 and an ambience reminiscent of Jr Byles on Upsetter. Nothing banal either about their early reggae, to a beat true to the rules of their art, it is nevertheless enriched with phases reminiscent of the 2-Tone era, (with the glaring impression on I'm Bored of a depressed Terry Hall.) On hearing that the main core is also active within 'More Specials', a tribute band to The Specials (a tendency which could seem strange here in France, is very  cool in GB. Madness also have theirs: 'One Step Behind'.) We are less surprised, and we understand, that this album stands out in today's independent productions. A little like that of Pama International two years ago. A real discovery to be supported 100%.

EVER REY D

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