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Original Sounds of the Zion

Zion Train

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Album Review

For decades, England has played host to a reggae scene second only to Jamaica's in terms of its richness and quality of output. But until the reggae/dance collective Zion Train relocated there from Tottenham, it's probably safe to say that West Wales was not generally considered a significant center for reggae music. If the group's albums since the move are any indication, that may soon change. Original Sounds of the Zion opens powerfully, with three rootswise boom shots that crackle with energy and reverberate with dub-infused grooviness. The sentiments are as predictable as song titles like "Zion High" and "Hailing Up the Selector" would lead you to expect, but predictability is part of what people typically turn to roots reggae for, so no complaints there. What does come as a surprise is the rather pedestrian house interlude that follows, but by track five you're back into militant reggae mode, with a long dubwise number titled "Blessed Is He." It's nicely done, but its relentlessly pounding steppers rhythm does begin to wear a bit as the five-minute mark passes. Over the remainder of the album things stick to a similar pattern of variation, with house, funk, and reggae grooves all rubbing elbows like good-natured celebrants at an unusually stylistically varied rave. Note in particular the fine horn arrangements on "King of the Sounds and Blues" and the crisp, delicate rhythmic filigrees on "Beautiful Children." Recommended.

Biography

Formed: 1990 in London, England

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '90s

Multimedia acid-dub collective Zion Train comprised vocalist Molara, DJ/bassist Neil Perch, trumpeter David Tench, melodica player Colin Cod and trombonist Chris. Formed in North London in 1990, its members initially came together as a dub sound system; their first single, the limited-edition roots 7" "Power One" (issued on their own Zion Records imprint), immediately sold out, while its follow-up "Power Two" was a major favorite at shaka dances throughout 1992. For their next effort, Zion Train...
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Original Sounds of the Zion, Zion Train
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