SPIRITS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD: A REGGAE TRIBUTE TO THE POLICE
JAMAICAN & AMERICAN STARS UNITE TO REVINVENT POLICE CLASSICS
WITH A REGGAE SPIRIT
The Police reunion tour has been one of the biggest musical events of the past year as it brought to the fore the reggae-influenced repertoire of perhaps the biggest hit-making rock/pop group of the early Eighties. SPIRITS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD: A REGGAE TRIBUTE TO THE POLICEunites an all-star aggregation of Jamaican and American artists who reclaim and amplify the reggae element in the Police’s music by doing overtly reggae versions of a hand-picked set of Police hits and favorite album tracks. This highly anticipated project, due out on Shanachie Entertainment on February 19, 2008, features such renowned artists as Toots & The Maytals, The Wailing Souls, Ali Campbell of UB40, Joan Osborne, Junior Reid and Lee "Scratch" Perry, among other dynamic talents. Produced by the legendary and Grammy-winning Inner Circle, a portion of the proceeds of SPIRITS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD: A REGGAE TRIBUTE TO THE POLICEwill benefit The Toots Foundation, which was founded by Toots Hibbert of Toots & The Maytals to build and run youth centers in Jamaica.
Shanachie GM Randall Grass was inspired to record SPIRITS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD when he heard about the Police reunion in early 2007. "I remembered in the late Seventies that The Police were one of a significant handful of rock/pop artists, such as The Clash, The Selector, Blondie and others, who were incorporating elements of reggae in their music and thereby helping to popularize reggae, something that was definitely observed with interest by many Jamaican artists. I felt it would be exciting to record strong reggae versions of Police songs whereby the reggae element would be the driving force rather than simply an inflection."
Grass placed a call to Inner Circle, whose roots go deep from their time backing Bob Marley and making classic recordings with the late great Jacob Miller up through their huge crossover hit "Bad Boys," the theme of the Cops television show. Inner Circle’s Miami studio has become a favorite venue for such R&B and rap stars as Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, P. Diddy, Pit-bull, Mariah Carey and others so they were perfectly placed to oversee an album that bridges the worlds of pop and reggae.
"These guys (The Police) took a genre, put their own style to it and made the world aware of the roots style of reggae," notes Inner Circle’s Roger Lewis, "so we owe big respect to Sting and the Police. This project has been one of the most intriguing projects we’ve ever done because everyone-Junior Reid, Ali Campbell, Toots, everyone-brought their own sound to these Police songs."
Each artist on SPIRITS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD: A REGGAE TRIBUTE TO THE POLICE was asked to pick a Police song which they felt would be suitable for their style; many of the Jamaican artists had been involved in cross-over projects before. The legendary Toots Hebert of Toots & The Maytals had recorded the acclaimed Toots In Memphis album; The Wailing Souls, heard here in their newly re-united original four-man line-up, had their music featured in the film Cool Runnings, Horace Andy has been a featured vocalist with Massive Attack and Junior Reid had appeared on hip-hop remixes by Mims and Alicia Keys’ recent single "No One."
Inner Circle themselves were one of the first self-contained Jamaican bands to be signed to an American major label. Some of the American artists chosen have also demonstrated an affinity for reggae. The Hawaiian band Pepper has found success with a punk/ska/reggae hybrid and Cyril Neville of The Neville Brothers has long demonstrated his love of reggae through his band Cyril Neville and The Uptown All-Stars.
A special treat is the appearance of Big Chief Monk Boudreaux of The Golden Eagles Mardi Gras Indian gang, who has long been a Bob Marley fan and here on SPIRITS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD reunites a traditional New Orleans sensibility with a roots reggae sound.
"Reggae became for me the musical canvas that I could freely paint, in words, what I witnessed in my life and times; the good, the bad and the ugly," shares Cyril Neville of The Neville Brothers. "The Police are one of my favorite groups and I like their song writing the most. Their arrangements have elements of different genres and that appealed to my New Orleans second-line senses. Their lyrics show a broad, realistic, and well-read view of the world we all share. The Beatles meets the Meters, maybe?"
SPIRITS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD: A REGGAE TRIBUTE TO THE POLICE features a number of surprisingly interesting interpretations of Police songs. UB40’s Ali Campbell specifically requested a "bogle" dance-hall beat for his version of "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic." Junior Reid’s version of "Synchronicity" sounds like the latest hard Jamaican-style dancehall smash more than a Police tune. Of course Toots transforms "Da Dee Dee Dee Da Doo Doo Doo" into his trademark old-school reggae groove and newcomer Tarrus Riley, son of noted Seventies reggae singer Jimmy Riley who has been hot with his "She’s Royal" smash gives a warm, soulful reading of "King of Pain."
All in all, the artists on SPIRITS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD take the songs of the Police in a deeper, more forceful direction. Their interpretations show that the reggae element in the Police music was more integral than many may have realized.
Toots & The Maytals: A legendary name in Jamaican music, their first hits date back to 1963 at the height of the ska era. Many credit their "Do The Reggae" hit with naming the genre. Forty-years later, with Toots Hibbert now joined by his son and daughter, he is still going strong with his unmistakable vocals.
The Wailing Souls: Starting out in Trenchtown as compatriots of The Wailers in the early Sixties, this four-man line-up a rarity in reggae music. Their shifting line-up has always featured the lead vocals of both Winston "Pipe" Matthews and Lloyd "Bread" McDonald. After experiencing cross-over success in the early Nineties, the new millennium finds Pipe and Bread re-joined by original members Oswald Downer and Norman Davis.
Horace Andy: Blessed with one of the most distinctive voices in all of reggae, Horace Andy began with a string of hits for Studio One, including his classic "Skylarking." He has been a consistent presence on the reggae scene and, thanks to his work with trip hop pioneers Massive Attack in the Nineties, the international scene as well.
Inner Circle: With original lead singer Jacob Miller, Inner Circle scored such indelible hits as "Tenement Yard" in the Seventies and were one of the first Jamaican bands signed to a major international label. After surviving the tragic death of Miller, their "Bad Boys" hit became the theme for the television show Cops. Today Inner Circle continues with original members Ian and Roger Lewis and Touter Harvey.
Ali Campbell of UB40: UB40 burst on the UK scene in the late Seventies with overtly political songs grounded in the punk-reggae rebel scene there. They then scored massive worldwide success with their versions of both reggae classics and American pop hits but they have continued to record socially conscious material. As lead vocalist, Ali Campbell has proven himself to be one of the finest reggae vocalists in the world.
Junior Reid: Beginning as a protégé of the late Hugh Mundell in the early Eighties, Junior Reid became the lead vocalist of Black Uhuru when Michael Rose left in the mid-Eighties. As a solo artist he scored an influential hit with "One Blood" (sampled by many hip hop artists). Recently he sang on Mims’ "This Is Why I’m Hot" hit re-mix and is featured on the reggae remix of Alicia Keys single "No One." He also performed the Keys single with the singer on the nationally-televised American Music Awards.
Cyril Neville of The Neville Brothers: As the youngest of the four legendary Neville Brothers, Cyril Neville has always been the most politically oriented and committed to Pan-Africanism. As a result, Cyril made reggae a key component of his band, Cyril Neville & The Uptown All-Stars. He has also lent his gospel-rooted vocals and percussion to The Meters.
Lee "Scratch" Perry: The celebrated producer/dub-master/recording artist Lee "Scratch" Perry has made some of the most original and important recordings in reggae history. A key architect of dub music, in recent years he has done relatively few dub-mixes, concentrating instead on mixing and producing European pop and rock groups as well as his own solo recordings.
Gregory Isaacs: Known as "The Cool Ruler," Gregory Isaacs is a bona-fide reggae legend with literally several dozen major hits over his nearly forty years of recording. Along with Dennis Brown, he was the pre-eminent vocalists of the classic reggae era but went on to continued success in the dance-hall era.
Joan Osborne: One of the finest female pop/rock vocalists to emerge during the past fifteen years, Joan Osborne recorded in a wide variety of styles, toured with The Grateful Dead and performed with Motown’s Funk Brothers.
Pepper: Emerging from Hawaii with its flourishing reggae scene, Pepper has been compared to both the Police and Sublime with their high-energy punk/ska/reggae/rock synthesis. Through relentless touring they’ve brought their signature sound to venues across North America.
Tarrus Riley: The son of noted reggae singer Jimmy Riley, who was a member of the fabled Uniques and wrote the reggae classic "My Conversation," Tarrus Riley has emerged during the past year as one of the most promising new singers in Jamaica. His hit "She’s Royal" brings a positive message that harkens back to reggae’s classic era.
Monk Boudreaux: Revered as the "big chief" of one the most important Mardi Gras Indian "tribes" from New Orleans–The Golden Eagles, Monk Boudreaux has also performed and toured with The Wild Magnolias. The Mardi Gras Indians are secret societies of African-American men dating back 150 years who "mask" as Indians…their unique vocal and percussion mix with its own language is at the root of much New Orleans music.
Street Date: February 19, 2008