21 Songs, 1 Hour, 15 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

L.A.’s Aggrolites have carved a path for themselves in the relatively desolate field of contemporary American reggae artists. After three strong releases, live stints with the likes of Prince Buster and Madness, and laying down the instrumental tracks on Tim Armstrong’s delightful Poet’s Life album, the band returns here with a sly grin, daring to go a step beyond the vintage, “dirty reggae” sound they’re known for. In addition to classic Trojan Records and Studio One influences — heard on tracks like the keyboard-riffing “Keep Moving On,” the Toots & the Maytals-flavored “What a Complex,” and the glorious ska instrumental, “Musically On Top” —  you’ve got the sound of classic soul. “Tear That Falls” is what might have happened had Bob Marley and Sam Cooke hooked up in the studio, and “It’s Time to Go” and “The Sufferer” skitter along on a soul-meets-ska bed of peppery organs and bluesy vocals. Next to the lazy, sunshine reggae of “By Her Side” and the high-energy rock steady of “Runnin’ Strong,” tracks like “Firecracker” and “Wild Time” recall the soul/funk of World Is a Ghetto-era War.

EDITORS’ NOTES

L.A.’s Aggrolites have carved a path for themselves in the relatively desolate field of contemporary American reggae artists. After three strong releases, live stints with the likes of Prince Buster and Madness, and laying down the instrumental tracks on Tim Armstrong’s delightful Poet’s Life album, the band returns here with a sly grin, daring to go a step beyond the vintage, “dirty reggae” sound they’re known for. In addition to classic Trojan Records and Studio One influences — heard on tracks like the keyboard-riffing “Keep Moving On,” the Toots & the Maytals-flavored “What a Complex,” and the glorious ska instrumental, “Musically On Top” —  you’ve got the sound of classic soul. “Tear That Falls” is what might have happened had Bob Marley and Sam Cooke hooked up in the studio, and “It’s Time to Go” and “The Sufferer” skitter along on a soul-meets-ska bed of peppery organs and bluesy vocals. Next to the lazy, sunshine reggae of “By Her Side” and the high-energy rock steady of “Runnin’ Strong,” tracks like “Firecracker” and “Wild Time” recall the soul/funk of World Is a Ghetto-era War.

TITLE TIME
4:31
3:59
3:02
4:00
3:09
3:58
3:32
3:55
3:14
4:11
3:09
4:00
3:09
4:00
4:12
2:51
2:41
3:46
3:04
2:35
4:06

About The Aggrolites

Blame it on No Doubt or blame it on Sublime, but by the middle of the 1990s, very little of the pop music that was described as ska had anything to do with Jamaican dance music of the early '60s. Too many bands whose sole connection to the musical style had been a few singles by the Specials or the English Beat got it all exactly backward, with the punk influences drowning out what little Jamaican influence remained: the result was basically Green Day with horns, and it wasn't any good for anyone. If the Aggrolites have a stated mission, it's to remind modern audiences what proper ska sounded like, whether in Kingston in 1963 or in London in 1979. The Aggrolites formed in 2002, originally getting together as the backing band for a one-off Los Angeles show backing Jamaican music legend Derrick Morgan. Gathering members from two minor Southern California reggae acts, the new band consisted of lead guitarist Jesse Wagner, rhythm guitarist Brian Dixon, organist Roger Rivas, bassist J. Bonner, and drummer Korey Horn. The concert was a success, and the band stuck together to record an album with Morgan that was never completed. Emboldened despite the recording setback, the band took the name the Aggrolites ("aggro" being a slang term of the ska-loving skinhead subculture of Britain in the 1960s and '70s, meaning pent-up aggression, and "lites" in tribute to the greatest ska band of all time, the Skatalites) and became the go-to guys on the West Coast ska and reggae circuit, backing a wide variety of golden-age Jamaican and British artists on their American dates, including the great Prince Buster and Culture lead singer Joseph Hill. On their own, with Rivas' funky organ work taking the instrumental lead in substitution for their lack of a horn section and Wagner taking vocal duties, the Aggrolites recorded their debut album, Dirty Reggae, at a live-in-the-studio session in 2003. Replacing Horn with new drummer Scott Abels (formerly of the popular third-wave ska band Hepcat), the Aggrolites signed to the Epitaph Records subsidiary Hellcat Records in 2005. Their second album, The Aggrolites, was released in May 2006, with their third, Reggae Hit L.A., following in June 2007, by which time drummer Horn had returned to the fold along with new bass player Jeff Roffredo. ~ Stewart Mason

  • ORIGIN
    Los Angeles, CA
  • GENRE
    Reggae
  • FORMED
    2002

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