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The Jolly Boys

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The Jolly Boys are the foremost performers of mento, the ribald, witty first cousin of Jamaican reggae. Like reggae, mento is marked by a shuffling, syncopated guitar strum, an irreverent attitude, and a lazy, swaying danceability. Unlike reggae, mento has no sacramental roots, nor does it strain after profundity. Instead, mento makes a religion of sexual braggadocio, drinking, and good times. The Jolly Boys have been composing and performing mentos for decades; indeed, they used to perform for Errol Flynn when he stayed at his Jamaican villa. Their sound is derived from rhythmic bongo playing, along with solos by the banjo and kalimba (finger piano). Two representative discs are Pop 'n' Mento and Sunshine n' Water. The Jolly Boys are hardly naïve folk musicians, though, and they aren’t traditionalists -- they’ll drop any song they feel like performing into the mento template and they aren’t afraid of gently modernizing their sound. That’s the case on 2010's Great Expectation, which featured charming and interestingly rearranged versions of songs by the Doors (“Riders on the Storm”), the Clash (“Should I Stay or Should I Go”), Steely Dan (“Do It Again”), New Order (“Blue Monday"), Amy Winehouse (“Rehab”), Lou Reed (“Perfect Day”), Iggy Pop (“Nightclubbing”), and Johnny Cash (“Ring of Fire”), among others, and it also featured sequenced drum tracks and horn arrangements by Cedric Brooks. ~ Leon Jackson & Steve Leggett

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