Reviewed June 2005
By John Brown's Body
Easy Star Records: 2005
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
As if we should need such evidence, the new CD by U.S. reggae band John Brown's Body proves for the umpteenth time that once an art form is created it belongs to the world.
True, we will likely always have small minds that harrumph curmudgeonly about "cultural authenticity" whenever any of the not-so-usual suspects tackle a musical style that speaks to their hearts particularly a style that was born in an Afro-derived culture.
But we also have the rock-steady grooves of JBB's to remind us that music is the only truly international language, one that needs no translation.
The message on "Pressure Points," the new album from JBB, is that reggae is increasingly global rather than Jamaican. The sun-soaked rhythms may evoke the Caribbean, but they come right out of New York City.
The songs, apparently all originals (leastwise, no credits are to be found), are bright, uptempo mainstream reggae. If not the Wailers, JBB is still the equal of an awful lot of reggae bands that actually come from the island. They play with a loose swing, have some great vocal harmonies, and a tight horn section.
Authentic? That comes from the spirit, not the place where you're born and by that measure, John Brown's Body is as authentic as they come.
Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).