On The Rock
This originally ran in Reggae Report in 1995.
"On The Rock," Israel Vibration's latest release on RAS records, once again finds
this unique harmony group in top form.
The three members, Apple (Albert Craig), Wiss (Lacelle Bulgin) and Skelly (Cecil
Spence) have combined their talents through the years to comprise one of Jamaica's
greatest vocal trios.
Since their first RAS release, 1988's "Strength Of My Life," all subsequent studio
recordings have had nine tracks, divided evenly between each individual. Wiss always
sings the opener, followed by Apple, then Skelly. Except for a slight variation on their
"IV" release, this format has stayed the same.
"On The Rock" follows that same order, except this time a fourth composition is
added by each artist, resulting in 12 songs and almost one full hour of essential modern
All three men, who met during childhood in a Jamaican Rehabilitation center for
Polio, are accomplished writers and vocalists. When they take turns supporting each other
with their unusual harmonies the results tend to be outstanding.
That's the case here as the exceptionally well-written tunes are again backed by the
incomparable Roots Radics, who even with the tragic loss of rhythm guitarist Bingy
Bunny still lay down some of the tightest grooves around.
The production by the group and Doctor Dread make for an extremely smooth yet
powerful recording. Each song, from the opening "Mr. Consular Man" through "Rebel For
Real" and "Struggling Youth," has sincere lyrics and deserves serious attention. Even with
the excellence of those tracks, a few others are worth the price of the CD alone:
"Ambush," "Rudeboy Shufflin" and the title track are three of the strongest reggae tracks
Israel Vibration continues to impress and "On The Rock" is another
uncompromising and exceptional disc of modern roots reggae from this critcally-acclaimed
and extraordinarily special trio.
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