Saturday, 8 June 2019

The Wailing Souls

Firehouse Rock (1982)

Firehouse Rock/Run Dem Down/Oh What A Feeling/Kingdom Rise Kingdom Fall/Act Of Affection/Busnah/A Fool Will Fall/Bandits Taking Over/Who Lives It/See Baba Joe  

This album dates from 1982, which was considerably late in the game for the cultural roots consciousness sounds that it gives us. Bands like CultureThe GladiatorsThe Mighty Diamonds and Burning Spear had been putting out laid-back, organ and brass dominated righteous material since the mid-1970s. Even by 1980, bands like Black Uhuru were coming out with a heavier, more militant, more thumpingly bass-heavy style. Either that or there was the lyrical “slackness” of General Echo. So, it is surprising that The Wailing Souls released what was really, even by 1982, such a comparatively “retro” album. It somehow already sounded delightfully nostalgic.

Either way, it is excellent. Backed by The Roots Radics rhythm section, the vocal delivery is as harmonious as you would expect. The rhythms are peerless, full of brass backing and a big full, melodic bass sound. The lyrics are devotional, as you would expect, but the ambience is laid-back and chilled.

Firehouse Rock is a strident, brassy opener with a great vocal. The soulful Run Dem Down is even better and Oh What A Feeling is incredibly catchy, with a stark, bassy dub-like rhythm.

Kingdom Rise Kingdom Fall is a big, bassy piece of devotional slow-paced, almost dubby groove. A Fool Will Fall is quite Marley-esque in places.

Bandits Taking Over is probably the most addictive and catchy number on the album. Great vocals on it and some tenor (?) saxophone, it would seem.

Who Lives It has a soaring, powerful "woh-yoy" vocal and some sumptuous brass parts, swirling organ riffs and a lovely dubby bass right at the end.

Busnah is an excellent, rumbling, upbeat groove, as also is See Baba Joe, which has some intoxicating bass work near the end. Check it out.

This is possibly one of the last great “roots” albums. It is always a half-hour well spent when I re-visit it.

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