Longtime reggae follower Michael Stone and the Blackstone Reggae AllStars have a firm base in Jamaican reggae.
Sweet-voiced reggae pioneer Justin Hinds (who died in 2005) even guests on their new album The King Sound Legacy, caressing the verses of Sam Cooke's "Chain Gang" to the point where it glistens with Trenchtown wistfulness. And the band's rhythm section couldn't be more genuine, what with reggae drumming great Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace holding down the trap kit and Bagga Walker on bass. Keyboardist Pablo Black has an equally strong discography. Between the three, they've appeared on hundreds of classic reggae and dub tracks.
But one of the strengths of the album is that the AllStars aren't wedded to straight reggae. Instead, they put together a hybrid sound that takes full advantage of session guitarist C.J. Summerfield's controlled riffing and Stone's mellow, time-worn vocals.
"Goin' South" has a familiar theme -- i.e., getting away from a troubled past and losing oneself in the warm precincts beneath the borderline. But Stone and company aren't fresh-faced romantics. They've all lived, and this bittersweet tale of escape and renewal has a desperation about it that belies the beach 'n' beer vibe of Summerfield's dreamy country-western lead guitar. It's as if Ry Cooder had sat in with UB40 for the night.
A MP3 of the track is available in the related downloads at right.
MadTracks highlights and provides MP3s of songs performed by local musicians. All tracks here are provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.