Alborosie – Sound The System
2.) Play Fool (To Catch Wise)
3.) Rock The Dancehall
4.) Zion Train (feat. Ky-mani Marley )
5.) To Whom It May Concern
6.) Who Run The Dance
7.) Goodbye (feat. Nina Zilli)
8.) U Got To Be Mine
9.) Love Is The Way
10.) There Is A Place (feat. Kemar)
12.) Don’t Pressure It
13.) Warrior (feat. Nature)
14.) Give Thanks (feat. The Abyssinians)
15.) Shut U Mouth
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: October 1st, 2013
Record Label: VP/Greensleeves
Official Website: Alborosie Website
The MOBO award-winning Italian reggae artist Alborosie recently released his brand new studio album and vinyl LP Sound The System in the United States. The multi-talented artist encompasses a mix of live instruments and analogue recording techniques akin to reggae’s golden age. On his latest album, he produced the majority of the tracks and played 90% of the accompanying instrumental parts. Sound The System follows his two previous acclaimed Greensleeves studio albums – Two Times Revolution and Escape From Babylon. Special guests on the album include Ky-Mani Marley on the Bob Marley classic “Zion Train” and Italian star Nina Zilli on ska-flavored track “Goodbye.” The legendary Abyssinians are also featured on a horn-drenched “Give Thanks.”
Alborosie’s approach of total immersion into Reggae drove this Italian born singer to live in the hills of Jamaica, buy up old studio gear from some of the legends of Kingston (King Tubby and Coxsone Dodd) and work with veterans of the golden age, all in the name of his sound. This dedication to authenticity comes exploding from the speakers on Sound the System, a Reggae recording full of songs ranging from dancehall, Ska Roots and sing jay style. His Vocal style is rough, similar to Buju Banton, but not too rough to deliver his positive and meaningful lyrics.
Playing most of the instruments himself, he sticks to a style of production and songwriting reminiscent of the Jamaican greats, nailing the genre without over-complicating. Full of Anthems, Duets and Burial songs, Sound the System shows Alborosie as a talented musician, producer, singer and deejay.
It would be hard not to compare some of the record to Black Uhuru because of the prominent use of the Syn Drum made popular in Reggae Production by Sly and Robbie. This can be heard on songs “Play Fool” and “Rock the Dancehall”. “Play Fool” is an old Jamaican proverb meaning to play ignorant or unaware when you know the facts, using that to your advantage. “Rock The Dancehall” is a response to the idea that Reggae music is dying and by proof of this Anthem, Alborosie shows the audience that the state of Reggae music is strong and belongs in the dance.
I usually am not a fan of covers, especially Bob Marley covers, but Alborosies version of “Zion Train” with KyMani Marley is really well done. Adding his own verses to the original hook was a good way to pay homage to the late great, making the song his own.
“Goodbye”, feat. Nina Zilli, is a great ska duet which reminds me of the old days of Ska with its heavy American doo-wop influence. This is a great example of the depth of Sound The System and Alborosie’s style.
From the Nyabinghi intro of Sound the System to “Give Thanks”, the collaboration with the Abyssinians who sing in Amharic, Alboroise seems determined to connect with his audience on a deeper level, showing his appreciation and dedication to Rasta. This can be further derived from “Love is the Way” in which he discusses the meaning of Rasta beyond the look a style.
Sound the System has more peaks than valleys and honestly too many high points to discuss in this short review. With the new Reggae revival that is taking place in Jamaica, Alborosie seems determined to be at the forefront. Although a very positive artist, don’t mistake him for weak on the scene, he can champion love and truth but still murder a soundbwoy. As you can expect from a Greensleeves Records release, this album sounds sick across a variety of systems and the production is top notch. Lovers of all genres of Reggae music will find something to gravitate towards in this record.
Written & Reviewed By: Tommy Dubs (of A Sunny Place For Shady People)
[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer, expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, not the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]
Listen: Alborosie – Sound The System (Full Album Stream)