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The Erin Bardwell Collective - A Showcase of New Sounds in Reggae Time (PATCD05)

I have a few of the Pop-A-Top Records releases and while the first two are good, I thought this CD, the second volume of tracks from the Erin Bardwell Collective, was significantly improved.

There is an obvious attempt to make this record sound authentic, both through the production and through the sound, which is influenced by that whole Hippy Boys, Harry J etc period of reggae music. We hear predominantly heavy keyboard driven sounds, which are being favoured by many of the bands today.

Erin Bardwell is the keyboard player and he features in many of the songs, particularly the instrumentals. The last of these, The Green Room, is my favourite, with a piano sound favoured and the addition of clapping throughout the track. This clapping can also be heard on Copenhagen, which is another of my favourite tracks on the album, with its prominent organ riffs.

The vocal tracks on this record feature Lady Messenger, Sandra Bell and Nevil Banton. The opening track is the rootsy Stole Your Mind with Lady Messenger. Although I enjoyed it, the style of this song doesn't really allow for her to show the listener how good her voice is, and I think it is a shame there wasn't another featuring her reaching to loftier heights.

The two tracks Nevil Banton are on are good, he isn't bad chatting over the top of some more eerie dub sounding tracks, while Sandra Bells is used on two of the more major upbeat tracks on the album. They are also good, but I felt the backing could have been brought back a bit so we could really get a good taste of her voice.

All in all, it is a good album. I'd like to see this band perform live where perhaps the levels might be a little different to the recording and we'd get a clearer indication of the talents of the artists, particularly the vocals.

Also, if you throw the CD in your computer, you will find what is an excellent promo video for the track Groundwell Farm, which I much enjoyed.

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