These days most reggae fans will be aware that there is a growing live band scene in Jamaica with a roots inflection. Once an underground phenomenon, it has been eagerly reported by a European press, waiting for a cultural revival, and now there are now more bands in the public eye than you can you can point at with a rod of correction.
In keeping with the increasingly well-educated nature of popular music globally, many of these collectives formed at Edna Manley College. Studying under Ibo Cooper of Third World could be why some, like C Sharp, have a similar lavish slick early 80s progressive sound. Others, such as Pentateuch are closer to Rolling Stones/EMI era Peter Tosh, while the stripped down, studiedly languid Raging Fyah are more similar to UK roots like Matumbi in tone.
Yet one ensemble that, for reasons inexplicable to a foreigner, have not enjoyed the same profile in Europe are Heineken Inspire and Jamaica Cultural Development Corporation contest winners Mystikal Revolution, led by drummer O’Brian Williams, who dropped their debut album on 1st March. Inexplicable because they are as talented as any of the above alumni and this is among the stronger debut albums in an already competitive year.