Bambu Station: Roots Reggae at its Finest Endures

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Anyone who treasures Roots Reggae must do themselves a favor by obtaining this album. “Children of Exodus” is a stellar offering by the magnetic band: Bambu Station.

[Truth To Power]

These days, much is to be desired of the music being mass produced for public consumption on the airwaves.

Depressingly, “pop” music has currently degenerated into an orgy of misogyny, mindless materialism and gangsterism. Unfortunately, in many ways, the same can be said of the Reggae presently promoted and financed.

For, today, what passes for Reggae, on radio and television, is a perverted form from what Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Jacob Miller and so many others toiled to take to the oppressed worldwide masses. Those artists were dedicated to spreading Reggae’s real message: liberation for the poor, equal rights and justice and one love among humanity. Unfortunately, because of poverty, big money forces have coopted many—who now sing, primarily, to improve their financial status.

However, real Roots Reggae has remained resilient through years of promotional neglect and non-existent airplay. Many veteran Reggae artists and groups like: Third World, Steel Pulse, Aswad, Sly and Robbie, Jimmy Cliff and others remain on the global scene and continue to push on. Also, besides Bob Marley’s energetic progeny of: Ziggy, Stephen, Julian, Ky-mani and Damien Marley other new Jamaican artists are making quality Reggae music. Etana, Queen Ifrica and the Dubtonic Kru—a group which won the 2010-11 global Battle of The Bands, in Malaysia—are all important up-and-coming Roots Reggae artists.

Moreover, in the last 15 years, or so, other quality Roots Reggae artists and groups have emerged from lands in the African Diaspora—and Africa. Artistsgroups like: Midnite, Dezarie, Nasio Fontaine, Taj Weekes and Adowa, Tuff Lion, Queen Omega, Niyorah, Elijah Emanuel, Abja, Majek Fashek and the Nazarenes have all contributed immensely to keeping the flame of cultural Reggae burning bright and strong.

And Bambu Station’s   new release, "Children of Exodus," again reminds us of Reggae’s potent power. Like all great Reggae albums, Children of Exodus is filled with all the relevant themes: the global fight for equal rights and justice, African liberation and brotherly love mixed with intoxicating rhythms, lush harmonies and brilliant bass-and-drum beats.

Hailing from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Bambu Station was started, in 1996, by Jalani Horton—a one-time justice system family mediator and aspiring lawyer. The group has previously released the albums Congo Moon, One Day and Breaking the Soil. The band is composed of musicians from the islands of St. Thomas—known as Thomians—and from St. Croix—known as Cruzians. Radio personality Terry Wilson—creator of the award-winning Midnight Ravers music show on Radio WBAI 99.5 F.M., in New York, who has been in radio over 30 years—has called Bambu Station “one of the most dynamic groups to arise in Reggae in the last 25 years and their efforts show great future promise.”

Those familiar with this group will know of the critically acclaimed “One Day” album. When all is said and done, I belief “Children of Exodus” will become a classic. The 16- track album is livicated—as opposed to dedicated, within, the Rastafarian parlance—to Reggae King Bob Marley and his legendary 1977 Exodus album—called by Time Magazine “best album of the 20th Century.” With albums like “Children of Exodus,” Marley would be proud to know his “one love” liberation message is now being championed by many—including his brothers in the African Diaspora.

“Children of Exodus” starts smoothly with a piano-inspired track utilizing exceptional backing harmonies entitled: “Walk Ur Mile.” The song exudes positivity—though it addresses several of the urban woes plaguing our communities, for, it implores the listener to continue the journey on this oftentimes rough road of life. In keep with the album’s livication to Bob Marley, the next track, “How Tings Ah Go,”  features Junior Marvin—the renowned guitarist who travelled the world over with Mr. Marley and the Wailers. The song speaks to contemporary issues and situations, especially, as it relates to ideological strife. The song reaches its climax with the entry of Cruzian musician and chanter Cat Mitchell.

The next song, “Contradiction,” explores the contradictions all humans have—but are often unaware of and the problems this lack of awareness can cause. The listener is next blessed with a short inspirational message on “Love Divine,” which sets the stage for the next offering “Wanna C U Love.” This track’s message is as positive as can be with Mr. Horton    singing “I wanna see you love, I wanna see you smile, to bring the balance to our lives.” The song is accentuated by the kind of excellent horn arrangements we don’t hear nearly enough nowadays. On the unity song “Bonded Together,” the listener is exhorted to “lift your hearts and praise up Jah,” since, “the ones seeking good has bonded together.”

The harmonica-inspired “Ngozi Sekelele Afreeka,” then cues in the bass-and-drum driven “Leaning on Afreeka.” The track expresses the love, for Africa, that many imprisoned in the West and throughout the African Diaspora feel. Next comes the militant up-tempo tune “Heathen,” with reaches a captivating crescendo with a scorching solo, on guitar, by veteran Virgin Island musician Ras Abijah Hicks. After “Bambu Elektricity,” a collection of audio clips from Bambu Station’s fans; comes “Warnin”  Underpinned by a great bass-and-drum beat, this song has fantastic horn arrangements made much sweeter by the lead guitar contribution of J. Alburger.

On “Times is Dread,” the contemporary, problematic situations of: greed, lust and jealousy—especially, as made manifest within the Western world—and how they lead to spiritual degradation upon all humanity are tackled. “Families of Jah” is a string, harmony and drum-filled track exploring the confusion of the African family and the self-destructive tendencies within our communities. “All We Have” is another profoundly positive tune reminding us that good family and friends is “all we have.” The song also features the soulfully sweet singing of Kojo Johnson.

Next comes the title track “Children of Exodus” with a lengthy vocal appearance by spiritual sage and founder of the African Hebrew Israelites: Ben Ammi Ben-Israel—author of “God the Black Man and Truth.” On this deeply spiritual track—which starts with sounds from an upright bass, a gong, drums and timbales—Brother Ben Ammi launches into and expounds upon several things, including, the historical connections between America’s global emergence bankrolled by African slavery. This album ends as exquisitely as it begins with “Closer to Heaven,” a song filled with beautiful flute and acoustic arrangements.

Truly, “Children of Exodus” is worthy of the highest accolades. Anyone who treasures Roots Reggae must do themselves a favor by obtaining this album. “Children of Exodus” is a stellar offering by the magnetic band: Bambu Station.

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