Songs Of Joy
This originally ran in the St. Louis Post Dispatch in 1993.
A major perk of any record reviewer is the possibility
of discovering music that most certainly would be overlooked
otherwise. Case in point is a recent package from South
Africa which contained "Songs Of Joy" by Ras Willie.
From his bio, Ras Willie is a 28 year old vocalist from
Zambia. Born William Wamudambo Mbewe, he changed his name
after listening to the sounds of Burning Spear, Israel
Vibration and Bunny Wailer - and ultimately embracing
Rastafarianism - in the mid-80's.
He's taken those influences and incorporated them into
a unique and energetic reggae style which blends jazz, rock,
ska, rumba and African. The result is phenomenal.
Beginning with the intense "Rub-A-Dub-A-Musica," the 8
tracks on "Songs Of Joy" are relentless. Willie's
emotionally-charged vocals are accented with plenty of
horns, infectious beats, dynamic drumming and scorching lead
guitar (courtesy of "George The Greek"). The tunes are
above-average in length (ranging from 4 1/2 to 7 minutes)
and each becomes an excercise in this reggae-fusion style.
This superb release is Ras Willie's debut. If you dare
to give new sounds a chance, this powerful disc will knock
you out. If you can't find "Songs Of Joy," order it. It'll
be worth your while.
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