Album Review: Menny More - On Air Live
by Gardy Stein
Unlike genres like Pop or HipHop, where looks and style are extremely important, Reggae has always had a big heart for artists who stand a bit out of the norm. You don't have to look like a Hollywood star, you don't need a huge marketing machinery, you don't even have to sing perfectly to celebrate roaring success. Gully Bop, Elephant Man, King Stitt or Yellowman became everybody's darlings despite or maybe even because of their little quirks and imperfections, giving the common people a frame of reference, something like an underdog-image they could relate to. It's simply fi we music!
With Junior Morrison aka Menny More, a new artist enters the scene who, by his passionate approach to Reggae, instantly wins our favours. Actually, he started out as DJ Ryder in the 90s and later became a member of the Easy Star All Stars, performing with them for many years.. On Air Live is his third release, but since the other two (Menny's Book Of Riddims in 2012 and A Bit Of My Soul in 2014) have never made it big, this might be the one that propels him to international attention.
Thirteen titles abduct us into his colourful world of music, a world that is extremely fun to enter. Not only the vibes are right, but also the rhythmic framing: every track has a sweet swing that invites heads to bop and feet to tap, especially the more uptempo Laugh Last and Soar. On others, you just feel like grabbing a partner to rock away with, such as the lovely Count On Me, Will You Be There or the Hammond-ish Tonight. Reminiscing the golden era of 90s Dancehall (Cowboy and all), Big Man In Town is the only riddim of the album that is not recorded with live instruments, but was programmed by Leon "Di Bachelor" Smillie. All other tracks breathe authenticity through the skilled hands of Kirk Bennett, George Miller and Sly Dunbar on drums, Daniel "Axeman" Thompson, Flabba Holt or Robbie Shakespeare on bass, Paul "Wrongmove" Crossdale and Chinna Smith on guitar, Robbie Lyn on keys, Jerry Johnson on sax and Bongo Herman on percussions.
On such a warm, original foundation, it's most natural for Menny More to demonstrate his fantastic sense of melodic arrangements in tunes like Dread Pass Thru, Bad Man or Never See Me Crying. And even though the vocal delivery is not always flawless, the feeling hooks! Speaking of: Stay From Them (whether in its basic version or in combination with Capital D) is an irresistible piece that's something like the cherry on this sonic cake. Whoever told the former DJ/ MC Menny that he should start singing deserves thanks and praise!
On Air Live is a must for lovers of authentic, soulful Reggae music - minus auto-tune, minus arrogance, plus vibes and culture. It leaves only one thing to be desired: to see Menny More on air, live!
Menny More - On Air Live
DIGITAL RELEASE [Total Satisfaction Records]
Release date: 01/27/2017
01. Laugh Last
02. Count On Me
03. Big man in Town
04. Dread Pass Thru
05. Bad Man
06. Stay from Them
07. Men of Right
08. Will You Be There
11. Shouldn't Do Me That
12. Never See Me Crying
13. Stay from Them feat. Capital D