Redstar Records 2008
This 20 track compilation compiles 10 years of history for a band that dedicated themselves in capturing the sound of the 60's Jamaica. The Orobians come from Northern Italy but they capture the spirit and sound of a different place. Mixing in various styles with Jamaican ska such as jazz, rocksteady, mambo, etc. The Orobians have quite a story to tell and one that is documented quite well in the liner notes. Think of the album as a soundtrack of the band while you read about the various recordings and incarnations of the group. As most ska bands have a sorted history of people coming and going this group is no different. However many bands do not last for 10 years so there is much to celebrate about this anniversary.
I had a hard time writing this review because the amount of music is so vast on here. The CD booklet does a great job in telling their story from the band's own mouth. The music and the story revealed in the liner notes go hand in hand. The music and words both stand on their own but together is where they work well with one another. In todays music world many independent labels do not have the luxury to even include liner notes often you are lucky to get who played on the album and where it was recorded. One has to applaud The Orobians and Redstar records for putting this package together and making it bilingual as well .
It is difficult to review an album with 20 tracks. One has to say the band's ability to cover Jamaican music is impeccable and their covers of Skatalites sound authentic. "Christine Keeler" is one of my favorite Skatalites songs of all time. Also their cover of "Old Rocking Chair" by Jackie Opel is quite amazing. "Money Can't Buy Life" is another great tune. The album is split with instrumentals and vocal numbers. The ska/reggae feel almost gets lost on the opening tune which is a Strauss composition but Dizzy Gillespie's Bebop is given a proper treatment on "Bop Train." The singing on the album varies from male to female as does from English to Italian. The most powerful singer on the album for me is Decaro who the liner notes reference as just some ordinary guy that decides in his mid-30's he wants to sing in a ska band. And he does and fronts a band that had before just been instrumental, which I am sure was quite a transition.
Also one has to mention of "Love theme from 'Godfather" is really powerful it starts out with just a trumpet and then morphs into a masterpiece. The groups arrangements are often very jazzy and vocals even if present often take a back seat to the horns. The band is very horn driven but there is very highly crafted guitar work and keyboard throughout this collection. The rhythm is very authentic and the drummer and bass set the rhythm on all the songs. The drummer's constant one drop with the stand up bass gives it a Skatalites-esque appeal.
This is a very highly crafted collection of songs from a very skillful group. I did get lost a little in how massive the album is and how many different periods it covers. The album is arranged in a way the songs all mix together rather then being in a chronological order. I would have preferred a chronological order to hear how the band came to be in its various parts. But I would recommend this album for fans of traditional ska and also fans of New York Ska Jazz Ensemble this would be right up your alley.
For more info about buying this album go here...