Rootz Underground CD Review 2008


Mystic Urchin/Riverstone Records
Movement introduces Rootz Underground, a six-man group that has come onto the Reggae scene like a storm. The band has a genuine desire to move listeners to a higher consciousness and to revolutionize Reggae music. Yes, these guys breathe new life into a sector of the genre that is sometimes relegated to oldies and vintage festivals.

Rootz Underground members include Steve Newland, (lead vocals and lyricist), Charles Lazarus, (lead guitar), Jeffrey Moss‑Solomon, (rhythm guitar, backup vocals and lyricist), Colin Young, (bass guitar), Paul Smith (keyboard), and Leon Campbell (drummer).

Newland recently called Movement a “musical hammer,” but at the same time he described it “like Ital stew, because sometimes it takes long to cook.” Indeed, it took the band five years before they entered the studio. Live shows perfected their sound, leaving no question that the band’s mission is to elevate Roots Rock Reggae. Movement is intended to be listened to front-to-back, like listening to a storyteller. The opening salvo is a blazing DJ-intro by Rory ‘Stone Love’ Gilligan, followed by “Time Is An Illusion.” Produced by Gilligan, it is hopeful and reflective. The song’s strength lies in the spiritual depth of the lyric, as well as Smith’s harmonies.

The album rolls right into “Victims of the System.” This is the proverbial “big tune” that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Resembling a rebel war chant, it is infectious and driven by Newland’s voice. The sticky tag line will have you singing “enemies of robber Babylonian” all day long. The tune has a message, but it is delivered so well that you don’t even realize you are getting an education. Don’t exhale Rasta, the lessons continue with “Herb Fields” and “Hammer.” “Herb Fields” takes you to an idyllic field of “trees” where lyricist Stevie G confronts Babylon’s reality. This track has a simple guitar-lead melody with a dash of Dancehall rhyme midway through. This one is sure to become a staple ganja song. Regrettably, the song is cut short by the producers. The first single is “Hammer,” produced by Bobby Digital. The song proclaims, “hammer dem down.” A horn opens the song, blending into guitar ‘fyah’ telling the rebel warrior to defend the helpless with his song and love.

“Rain,” “When I Go,” and “Riverstone” are an oasis from the band’s lessons. The most popular song on iTunes is “In the Jungle,” probably because of its playful upbeat sound.

Movement, a decidedly modern Roots Reggae album that fuses elements of Jazz, Ska, Dub, R&B, Dancehall, and Rock, is produced by Wayne Armand, leader of Jamaica’s legendary band, Chalice. It is a ‘must have’ to add to your collection.

–Irie Hatuey

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