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Maimon and the
These were the original
liner notes that were supposed to be included in the cd's booklet.
Mongoose first appeared on my radar screen in 1999 when a fellow DJ
on KDHX, Papa Ray, handed me a copy of their debut CD, Soul Deliverance.
I fell in love with the band.
As fate would have it, a few
months later they came through St. Louis to the Red Sea and blessed us with an
outstanding night of intense, uplifting reggae. Over the next year they played
in town on two different occasions, each time to packed houses at Club Viva and
each time leaving us wanting and craving for more.
I met the band that
first night and have kept in touch with Maimon Chocron, the front man, ever
since. Maimon was born of Jewish-Moroccan parents who left North Africa just
prior to his birth. They lived briefly in Paris where their son was born, and
continued on a journey that led them to Canada, where they settled in a
tightly-knit, Moroccan-Sephardic community in Montreal.
playing guitar at the age of eleven. He played mostly rock music as a teen,
influenced by artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. In 1979 his world
was blown wide open when a neighbor turned him on to Bob Marley's Kaya. It
reminded him of the Moroccan trance-music he heard as a child. He was home.
Maimon found himself writing song after song, playing with local
musicians, and learning reggae from Jamaican artists in Montreal. It was clear
that his talent and passion were destined to converge in his own reggae band,
and in 1989 he formed Geoulah (Redemption in Hebrew). His original songs were
inspired by Jewish spiritual teachings, coupled with the everyday experiences of
urban youth. Geoulah's explosive first album, Soul Deliverance, was released in
1995. On the momentum of that debut’s success, Maimon moved to Los Angeles where
he saw his music and opportunities grow. He also quickly realized the band's
name was difficult to pronounce for his new American audience, so after some
brain-storming sessions, a friend came up with Mongoose. They liked the fact
that it was a small animal that when threatened by a snake attacks it, but
doesn’t eat it. They liked the name – it had bounce to it - so they went with
They proceeded to re-release Soul Deliverance under their new name
and things escalated quickly from there, with the band opening for such
luminaries as the Wailing Souls, Mighty Diamonds, Third World, Gregory Isaacs
and Steel Pulse. They even did a small tour with The Wailers, hooking up with
them on the California leg of one of their tours. In 1999, Maimon met Ronnie
“Stepper” McQueen, the original bass player for Steel Pulse, who was also living
in Southern California. They connected immediately and Stepper soon joined
Mongoose as an integral part of the sound and vibe. A year later, they recorded
and released a 5-song demo EP produced by Stepper, called Special Edition.
Consisting of Clear Night, All Yours, Soul People, Puff And Relax and Police
Terror, it showcased the band’s tight sound and the maturing of Maimon’s
songwriting. But it was void of lead guitars and harmony vocals and was never
considered a finished product. They toured in support of it, though, as they
were selected for the NACA convention [National Association for Campus
Activities] which resulted in the band doing college tours and ultimately
playing throughout the U.S. Since 2001, they’ve been playing steady gigs on the
West Coast (with appearances at the Montreal Jazz and other festivals) and
evolving musically; honing their sound and getting tighter as an ensemble. In
2005, they were preparing to press new copies of their EP when Skank Records
stepped in with a bigger idea.
This disc was originally going to be a
compilation of different tracks from Soul Deliverance and Special Edition (with
added overdubs) plus two new songs. After hearing the subtle changes to the EP
tracks, as well as the brilliance of the two new tunes, it was decided to scrap
the older material (except for “Slumber City”) and go with even more new songs.
Believe me when I say the results are stronger than strong. Puff And
Relax was kept the same but all the other EP tunes were altered. Brand new
harmonies, guitars and even some new vocals from Maimon add a whole new feel to
the tracks. And the other new songs are fantastic, from the beautiful opening
tune, You Are, through the updated version of Soul People. There’s even an
absolute killer tune, Uman, which is sung in French over a hard-core roots vibe.
The music on Third Ear is dramatically smooth - totally fresh, yet
familiar - with just over one hour of urban, rootsy tunes. And once again I felt
it was imperative to have a detailed booklet with info and lyrics, to totally
absorb Maimon’s consciousness and message.
Maimon and the Mongoose Band, as they are
now officially known, have come up with a classic and I’m truly proud to present
it to the world.
Turn it up, skank it hard and enjoy.
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