Edward II

The dance rhythms of the Caribbean are blended with tradition-rooted English country dance tunes by Edward II. According to Dirty Linen, "the multi-ethnic band takes that transcontinental journey one step further by mixing the heartbeat of jamaican reggae and ska with the squeezebox sounds of English traditional dance music. The result is a unique, invigorating, blend." Formed in London's Notting Hill district in 1985, the group was initially called, Edward II & the Red Hot Polkas." Their 1986 debut album, Two Step Heaven, was a mostly instrumental effort produced by British dub producer, the Mad Professor, and included such tongue-in-jowl ditties as "Bjorn Again Polka" and the title track. By the time that they released, Zest, on its own label, in 1996, the group had shortened its name and increasingly incorporated reggae-flavored original tunes. Edward II's 1998 album, This Way Up, included some pure reggae tunes, including "Don't Let the Fire Go Out," but the album's best moments remained the more-culturally blended songs. Edward II features Glen LaTouche (vocals), Tee Carthy (bass), Alton Zebby (drums), Simon Care (melodeon), Gavin Sharp (sax and keyboards), John Hart (trombone and guitar) and Jon Moore (guitar and fiddle). ~ Craig Harris

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