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Re-Amplify

John Brown's Body

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Album Review

As gap-fillers go, this seven-track collection of remixes-plus-one-new-live-song (which is based primarily on John Brown's Body's 2008 album, Amplify) is about as good as they come. The band's turn from roots reggae classicism became decisive over the course of its last two albums as former backup singer Elliot Martin has taken firmer control of the group, and it is now a completely different organism: although the John Brown's Body sound is still distinctly reggae-ish, it's denser, swirlier, sometimes downright funky, and loaded with more powerful melodic hooks. It's the perfect vehicle for an adventurous electro-dub or techno producer in a remixing mood, and several showed up to contribute to this exciting collection. There are two mixes of "The Gold," one a brilliant jungle-dub mix by Wrongtom and Maxwell Bruck and the other a subtler and prettier interpretation by the Canadian reggae producer Dubmatrix. Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo contributes a chugging, electro-rock take on "Push Some Air," and GoldieLocks and Synth Girl team up on a reggaeton mix of "Give Yourself Over." The program closes with an excellent live recording of "Struggling," a new song that has yet to appear on a John Brown's Body album but that harks back explicitly to the band's earlier, rootsier sound. This may not be an essential addition to every reggae collection, but no John Brown's Body fan will want to be without it.

Biography

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Named in honor of the legendary abolitionist, reggae unit John Brown's Body was led by singer/guitarist Kevin Kinsella, a longtime fan of Caribbean music who formed the group Tribulations while attending college in Boston in 1989. Three years later they took top honors in the annual Yamaha Soundcheck contest, touring Japan as a result; in 1993 Tribulations also recorded in Jamaica, releasing the LPs The Gate and Daddy Good Pieces before disbanding. Striving for a more organic roots reggae sound,...
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Re-Amplify, John Brown's Body
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