Review: Midnite – King’s Bell

Review: Midnite – King’s Bell

Midnite – King’s Bell
Track Listing:
1.) Exalt The Crown
2.) Try That Way
3.) Mongst I & I
4.) Earth Is The Lords
5.) Kings Bell
6.) System Peak Out
7.) Jewel Inna Africa Horn
8.) Bittersweet
9.) Pon A Watchlist
10.) On the Broadcast
11.) Peak Tension Time
12.) Black Mamba
13.) What About Sudan
14.) Jerusalem School Room
15.) The Quickening
16.) Torpedo

The Pier Album Rating:

Release Date: November 1st, 2011
Record Label: I Grade Records
Purchase Album: Dub Vision on iTunes

Group Background:
Based in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, Midnite is a roots reggae group with lyrical content based in Rastafari movement teachings. The band was formed by brothers Vaughn and Ron Benjamin in 1989, though they did not release their first proper album until the mid 90’s. Since this time the band has steadily released new material in addition to collaborating with young artists and performing as the backup band for several African Roots Lab artists.

Album Review:
Unfortunately, I had never heard the music of Midnite until a week ago when my editor assigned me this review. And how sad I am that it took me this long to find such a brilliant roots-reggae group. Kings Bell is a fantastic effort from a band of roots veterans whose sublime mastery of the form shines in every corner of this release.

Recorded in Jamaica at the legendary Tuff Gong Studio and produced by Andrew “Bassie” Campbell, Kings Bell features a number of legendary Jamaican musicians including Earl “Chinna” Smith, Sticky Thompson and Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace.

The group utilizes a chant-and-response vocal style similar to Burning Spear, along with political lyrics and Rasta leanings. There is, however, a pastoral levity to the album, a lightness and meditative sentiment that outstrips even most reggae music in terms of “chill.” While it’s undoubtedly reggae, there is a similar lying-in-the-sun ease that brings to mind memories of the American south and sparse country, folk and Americana music.

The lyrics are aggressive, pointed and bit more imaginative than your typical “Bring Down Babylon” rhetoric, utilizing dense imagery and specific references (both biblical and political). Although the songs have the fiery passion of a Baptist preacher, anger never overcomes hope, fury never chanting down righteousness.

Kings Bell is overall a fantastic roots reggae effort steeped in Jamaican tradition, though dashed with just enough individuality to suggest a step in an interesting new direction. Although with 16 tracks is a bit of a trek to get through in one listen, each track is worth far more than the mere minutes they may consume.

Written & Reviewed by: Chris Castro

[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]