Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Take It To The Street!

Bedouin Soundclash "Street Gosepls" (side one dummy)

I regard the Clash as one of most brilliant bands of all time. What
the Clash did throughout their career was push the musical envelope.
They played reggae, funk, soul at a time when many would not expect
this type of musicianship from a group of punk rockers. The Clash may or
may not have been the first fans of punk rock and reggae. But there
is no doubt they were the first group to master a blend of punk rock and
reggae. Bedouin Soundclash might be the closest our generation ever
gets to The Clash. This Canadian band's latest album "Street Gospels"
is an intense delicate masterpiece of reggae, punk, folk, soul. You
almost cannot describe their sound without throwing out a long list of
names. Their sound is sort of like the Upsetters jamming with Bob
Dylan, The Clash partying with Otis Redding, and all the music being
dubbed out by King Tubby. The packaging on the album sort of relays
their long list of influences with cutouts of albums such as the
Paragons, Explosive Rocksteady, Horace Andy, Lee Perry, the
Skatalites, and various images from Japan, Africa, and other
geographical regions. The band captures this international sound and
results in this sort of post modern sound clash.

The album opens with the sonic charged "Until We Burn the Sun" that
sounds like a post modern apocalyptic reggae anthem. Jay Malinowski
on lead guitar and vocals on every song blares these songs of roots,
revolution, and relationships. "Walls Fall Down" is a slower
rocksteady like groove with steady acoustic upbeat guitar. Jay
instead of blaring reveals a tender vulnerability. To give the band
more credibility is Vernon Buckley (from the Maytones) and he intros
the pogues-sounding "St. Andrews." Bedouin Soundclash has this
ability to extend across genres – I cannot think of any band that
writes songs that have better hooks. "Bells of 59" and "12:59
Lullaby" are these subtle sounding songs that pack a punch with simple
melodies, steady grooves, and pure honest songwriting. The song
"Hush" is just sung a capella but it does not even stand out as weird
or out of place. It fits in like another individual puzzle piece.

On "Higher Ground" Vernon Buckley is given a full track to sing a
roots gospel sounding number. The band has developed a more soulful
sound that works well in the reggae influence present in most of their
songs. "Nico On the Night Train" sort of explains the bands
influences from the Velvet Underground rooted to the Train theme in
reggae music. The music on this track is a sort of mashing of a Latin
beat dubbed out vocals and distorted guitar. "Gunships" is a sort of
Clash sounding dub track that could have easily been found on "London
Calling" or "Sandinista!" The album closes with two dub-rock numbers
"Midnight Rocker" and "Hearts In the Night" that may not have the
intensity of some of the earlier tracks.

The band waited 3 years to craft this album and it is well worth the
wait. Their 2004 release "Sounding A Mosaic" has been a constant
rotation in my cd player and this album is no different. Both of
these past few albums have been produced by Bad Brain's Darryl
Jennifer and out of anyone he seems to have mastered the skill of
recording a band that covers so many different styles and genres.
The album is so powerful you will be amazed most of the music is
created just by three people. Eon Sinclair (on bass) and Pat
Pengelly (on drums) lay the perfect foundation for this punky-reggae
soul shakedown party.

1 comment:

  1. "Bedouin Soundclash might be the closest our generation ever
    gets to The Clash."

    Are you kidding? I think you have to listen to all your Clash albums again at higher volume. There is not a single note of punk in anything that this band does. Bedouin Soundclash are, at best, this generation's English Beat - and even then a pretty pale version of that great band.

    While I think their new album is a big improvement over the snooze-fest that was Sounding A Mosaic, I simply fail to see what the fuss about Bedouin Soundclash is. A good pop band who play reggae-inspired tunes - that's all.


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