House of Shem: Island Vibration (Isaac)

 |   |  1 min read

House of Shem: Move Along Together
House of Shem: Island Vibration (Isaac)

If it's true, as I am told, this album went to number one on the New Zealand charts it confirms two things: in this part of the Pacific we love them familiar summertime reggae grooves; and also that we have an indiscriminate love of them familar summertime reggae grooves to the point of ignoring the obvious.

The obvious here is that House of Shem deliver little more -- I'd actually say absolutely no more, and possibly less -- than reggae cliches on a musical and lyrical level ("gotta move along together, hold on tight to each other . . . unite").

This dreary, obvious and emotional black hole of an album is no more than cruisy barbecue music, albeit very well played.

So yes, you can take nothing away from the musicianship on display here, but toss over the top lyrics which sound like a Powerpoint presentation of reggae/Rasta imagery coupled with lovers rock (Babylon/brighter day/unity/Jah love/all I need is you) and you have an album which sounds as if it was conceived as being coated in emotional Teflon.

The vaguely interesting parts arrive when this forgettable hour-or-so sometimes connects with the Pasifika/Maori suggestions of its title (although even Ruia's contribution sounds a wasted opportunity on Tahuri Mai Ra over the generic grooves which are endemic here).

As with the last Katchafire album -- also up a blind alley but enormously popular -- the reggae tropes are here in pleasingly populist abundance . . . but actually there's very little going on.

Except perhaps if you are having a barbecue and you'd like to talk to your guests.

Believe me, this won't distract your attention.

Number one, huh?

Jeez ............

Want to hear better than this? Then try here.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Reggae articles index

Katchafire: Say What You're Thinking (EMI)

Katchafire: Say What You're Thinking (EMI)

About six years ago I first encountered Hamilton reggae band Katchafire playing in a pretty ropey provincial bar. I'd met them backstage beforehand -- actually in a room full of beer barrels --... > Read more

Lee Scratch Perry: Rainford (On U through Border)

Lee Scratch Perry: Rainford (On U through Border)

On his 1986 album Battle of Armagideon, the great producer/mixer/ dub magician and studio alchemist Lee “Scratch” Perry opened with Introducing Myself. By that time he hardly needed... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

R.L. BURNSIDE CONSIDERED: Blues from before fame

R.L. BURNSIDE CONSIDERED: Blues from before fame

For many decades before his career was given a high-profile resurrection by the Fat Possum label in Nineties (and he toured with the likes of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion), R.L. Burnside was... > Read more

THE ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: APRA Silver Scroll nominee 2013 Anna Coddington

THE ELSEWHERE SONGWRITER QUESTIONNAIRE: APRA Silver Scroll nominee 2013 Anna Coddington

The annual APRA Silver Scroll award acknowledges excellence in songwriting, so at Elsewhere we modified our Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire and tailored it to be specifically about the craft of... > Read more