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We Free Again

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Album Review

Two things will strike you immediately about this album. First, Groundation is perhaps the finest roots reggae band in California. Its seven members generate slow, smoky, disciplined grooves that rumble and shudder with the inexorable power of an elephant stampede and manage to sound simultaneously sensual and mystical. The second thing that will strike you, for probably not the first time, is the degree to which Apple Gabriel's singing style is an acquired taste. A founding member of Israel Vibration, Gabriel sings as a guest on this album and contributes both lead and background vocals, making this whole album sound like a slightly darker and tighter Israel Vibration project — which is great, unless you think Israel Vibration's vocal sound is just a bit too thin and whiny for comfort, in which case you'll find yourself trying to listen past the voice to those dark, smoky grooves and waiting anxiously for the songs on which Gabriel's fellow guest, Don Carlos, takes the mike. This happens on the brilliant "Suffer the Right" (though Gabriel sings on this one as well) and the very fine title track. The album's strangest moments come on a four-track suite titled "Cultural Wars," part of which includes unusual chord changes that Gabriel can't quite handle. Overall, this is a strange but ultimately rewarding album.

Customer Reviews

Real Roots Rock.

Let them talk about Harrison Stafford's voice. An unusual and unique vocal style doesn't constitute a mediocre vocalist. The musicians in this collaboration are polished to the highest degree. The transitions from one sound to the next between or within songs is performed like no other band can. Open your mind. Groundation's sound will rewire it. This album, along with all the rest, is like few others.


In terms of instrumental talent, Groundation is undeniably a great band. Harrison Stafford's lyrics and vocals, however, are horribly overrated. If you actually read the lyrics and listen to what is being said, you will find that it is repetitive to the point of redundancy, and without real meaning or depth (why would someone who supposedly believes in one God make a pantheistic statement like, Music is the Most High, for example), and without focus or cohesion, as none of the songs can develop the theme that their title might suggest. Even the title, We Free Again, would lead you to expect and album that focuses on the theme of freedom and the struggle for freedom, but the only overarching theme of the album, it seems is the generic "Them," the word that appears multiple times in every song with lyrics. If you are looking for quality reggae with both good instumentation and good lyricism, my advice is to look elsewhere.

Great lyrics and solos

Jah would approve.


Formed: 1998

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Northern California-based reggae group Groundation were formed by guitarist/singer/lyricist Harrison Stafford, keyboardist Marcus Urani, and bassist Ryan Newman in 1998. The rest of the band personnel has fluctuated. As of 2009, it included a horn section consisting of David "Diesel" Chachere (trumpet), Kelsey Howard (trombone), and Dr. Jason Robinson (saxophone), as well as percussionist Mingo Lewis, Jr. and singers Kim Pommell and Stephanie Wallace. The group's newest member was drummer Te Kanawa...
Full Bio
We Free Again, Groundation
View In iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: Reggae, Music, World
  • Released: Nov 16, 2004

Customer Ratings