Alpheus ADD


Album Review: Alpheus - Good Prevails


by Angus Taylor

This is From Creation part II for sure. But like the Godfather part II many fans will enjoy it even more than part I.

Album Review: Alpheus - Good Prevails

When London singer Alpheus teamed up with Spanish producer Roberto Sanchez for 2011’s acclaimed From Creation album, both were on a mission to go back in time. Alpheus, one of the final signings to the great Studio 1 Records in the late 1990s, had decided to turn away from contemporary reggae and go searching for the sounds where his mentor Coxsone Dodd started. Sanchez, who had painstakingly studied the roots productions of the 1970s, was making his first voyage to the ska and rocksteady era with his Lone Ark band.

The experiment proved a critical success and so the pair embarked on a second project of 60s indebted material. Released by Spain’s Liquidator Records rather than Roberto’s A Lone Productions it has similar ingredients: original and remade ska rocksteady and early reggae rhythms crafted by Sanchez, underpinning Alpheus’ intense heartfelt delivery. However, this time the vocals and songs fit the backings tighter. The playing and singing is more assured.

Good Prevails is, roughly speaking, a game of two sides. There are the minor key, proto-roots rocksteady pieces, mainly chosen by Roberto. The title track for From Creation rode a relick of the proto-roots master producer Phil Pratt’s Little Things (originally sung by Hemsley Morris). And again Phil is present via the title tune of Good Prevails (based on Pratt’s own Safe Travel) inspired by Alpheus’ mother. But the original backings in the same solemn style work just as well. These include Rudie No More (written about a wayward male friend over the slow “rude boy ska” of the Shower rhythm) and Our Strength (on the Soul Food – penned for a female friend being bullied at work).

Then there is soulful fast major key early reggae chosen by Alpheus such as Show Some Love on Sanchez Alpha Reggae construction and the Right One on a Winston Riley retread. Not forgetting upbeat rocksteady remakes in Reach For The Top (over Desmond Dekker and Leslie Kong’s Sabotage) and Liberty (based on Roy Richards and Coxsone Dodd’s instrumental Honky Panky). All offer timely relief from the powerful if sombre vibe, which reprises with two Sanchez melodica instrumentals at the set’s close.

Alpheus seems snugly locked into the rhythms. And you can hear added confidence all round in singing, songwriting, production, playing and mix. There exist multiple waves of bands around the world interpreting this kind of 60s Jamaican music, yet something about the ear of Sanchez lifts these recreations over the rest and above mere pastiche or apprenticeship.

This album struggled initially to find a distributor due to its vintage sound and Alpheus’ unshakeable decision not to return to modern music even if it could help pay for the record. The end result illustrates both Alpheus, Roberto and the musicians’ abilities in the studio and also their commitment to being artists in an age where earnings are so low that most are happy to simply entertain.

This is From Creation part II for sure. But like the Godfather part II many fans will enjoy it even more than part I.

Release details

Alpheus - Good Prevails

Alpheus - Good Prevails

CD / DIGITAL RELEASE / VINYL [Liquidator Music]

Release date: 04/28/2014


01. Our Strength
02. Open Your Eyes
03. The Right One
04. Look In The Mirror
05. Good Prevails
06. Rudie No More
07. Secret Rendezvous
08. Pass The Test
09. Reach For The Top
10. Show Some Love
11. Stand Up
12. Liberty
13. The Shadow
14. Soul Food