Thursday, 25 June 2009

Alborosie - Escape From Babylon

If you're looking for those big Alborosie tunes from over the past three years or so like:`Kingston Town', `Rastafari Anthem', `Herbalist', `Sound Killa' and `Waan The Herb' you're in the wrong place. Alborosie's first album `Soul Pirate' came out quietly last year when his management had a huge price tag on his head, and no record label rose to the bait - or so I've heard, and they ended up having to release it themselves in limited quantities

So most reggae folk know the story by now. Alborosie, a Sicilian-born reggae artist who moved to Jamaica to be close the roots of his beloved reggae music and the vibes of rastafari. This makes him an easy target to ridicule but he carries it off well and has a lot more credence that some of his Jamaican-born peers. Some have called him a one trick pony, sounding like he is stuck in a 1980's Black Uhuru time warp, with lots of comparisons to Michael Rose, the former front-man of Black Uhuru. Alborosie can put those criticisms to rest now, as they don't really apply to many of the songs on `Escape From Babylon'. However, our man does borrow styles left right and centre. There is something very Bob Marley about the sound of `America' and something very Eek-a-Mouse about `Real Story'. Saying that, he has created his own style and it's that he have to concentrate on.

With a lot of these songs the delivery, melody and phrasing are good enough even if the lyrics are somewhat uninspiring or lacking. For instance on the chorus of `No Cocaine' Alborosie recycles lyrics we have heard a hundred times before. But maybe I am just nit-picking? If people like that style, then more power to him. Gramps Morgan from the now defunkt Morgan Heritage pops up on `One Sound', which sounds like a hit, but is it just me or we have heard this song a few times before? The late Dennis Brown is resurrected on `Can't Stand It', originally a vintage Joe Gibbs production, whilst Horace Andy's vocals are borrowed on `Money' which is of course a revamp of Andy's classic `Money Money'. You also get the obligatory `"girl tune" in the shape of `Good Woman' and customary "binghi" tune `Likkle Africa'.

There are some very good tunes on here and my personal pick of the bunch, I have included audio youtube links below.

Like Sizzla's latest release on Greensleeves, Tony McDermott has had his pencils out once more, which makes this album a more attractive proposition.


  1. I think Herbalist and Kingston Town are superlative pieces of modern reggae (tough production and rhythms with good and iimaginative vocals). However, since then IMHO Alborosie has failed to impress and I am now of the school to believe that he is indeed a "one-trick pony". It's just all a bit too derivative and often smacks too much of making these fake combos in order to get a quick forward. File under "artist with potential who has failed to deliver"

  2. Alborosie does his thing ... I like it.

  3. Alborosie, no doubt, represents multiple style on his new album, but I see it as an homage to his influencers. I feel a likkle Yellowman vibe, Steel Pulse, Uhuru... Lyrically Alborosie tries a likkle too hard on the spirtual/meaningful tunes but fails and comes off contradictory at times. That said, his beats are proper and I like the journey this album takes me on through reggae history. Big up Alborosie, big up Sicily!


  4. u dont go to someones country not knowing their culture and start singing reggae. using punch lines like machine/MAHsheen to make it seem real. even his own boy in the video says WHO!?