Album Review: Mystic Revealers - Jah Jah People
by Gardy Stein
It's a sign of the times that new releases can't be promoted with live gigs or live listening sessions at the moment. However, if a seminal band like the Mystic Revealers publishes their first album in over 20 years, something extraordinary is bound to happen - and it did! In an elaborately organized Virtual Album Launch, the Mystic Revealers have gathered press and music business representatives from around the world to listen to the 12 tracks included, receive interesting background-information and ask questions to the originators. Of these, bassie Leroy "Lion" Edwards, drummer Nicholas "Cymbal" Henry and of course Anthony "Billy Mystic" Wilmot himself were present, as well as members of the latter's tight-nit family who operated the technical equipment. An indeed impressive 100 minutes of which I was honored to be a part of!
Cause and reason for this gathering was the album Jah Jah People which has just been released. Contrary to the 2015 Crucial Cuts, which collected highlights from the Revealer's then three-decade-catalogue, Jah Jah People presents all new material, based in almost equal parts on older ideas and new creations.
The album's most unique and prominent feature is the rich instrumentation. Apart from the original band members mentioned above, the Wilmot family plays a big role in this musical bliss, with Billy's sons Inilek on bass, guitar and keyboard, Icah on bass and Ishack on keyboard. Other notable contributions are Pierre Diaz (horns), Kirk Bennett (drums), Aeion Hoilett (bass), Lamont Savory (guitar), Everol "Stingwray" Wray (horns), Richard "Isax" Howse (sax) as well as Earl "Chinna" Smith on bass and guitar and even the sadly deceased Feluké on percussions. A whole lot of talent came together to make this happen!
With a playlist organized from A to Z, the album starts with the repatriation-hymn Are You Ready, followed by the equally yearning Blue Nile which, for me, is the best in terms of vocal performance - whereas Billy's voice sounds tender and almost fragile at times, in this track it is full and firm, resonating with his convictions. Criticising the capitalist system in Business Man, we Got To Get Away in the subsequent song, a song that harbours a surprise: while all other titles are sung by Billy Mystic himself, this one sees bassie Lion on the mic. Sweetness!
The title track, then, calls on all Jah Jah People to live according to Rastafarian principles and turn away from evil. Equally spiritual, the beautiful Just Can't Deny It conveys a feeling of connectedness to everything within and around us, a feeling reinforced by the accompanying video, another family effort. Produced by Natural High, the love song Kiss For Me is less organic than the other tracks (save the skilful guitar played by Stephen "Cat" Coore), but adds a modern touch to the whole.
Diving in deep Roots waters again, Many Are Called celebrates the chosen few who'll enter the gates of Zion, while Sitting On The Beach transports us to a meditative Groundation. The Nyabinghi piece is one of my favourites due to the decelerating effect it has on the listener, as it is dominated by mighty drums played by Anthony Davis, Michael Cleghorn and Noel Gayle as well as Chinna's guitar soli.
There Is A Place, finally, is a more traditional Reggae piece with a sweet melody and chord progression, while You'll Never Know releases us with an upful, jazzy vibe.
Jah Jah People is a remarkable album in many ways, but the most remarkable of all is that it has been completed despite the personal tragedy of a fire that destroyed the Wilmot's home in Jamnesia last year. Not only have most personal belongings fallen victim to the flames back then, but also the hard drives that contained song sketches and recordings, notebooks and band memorabilia such as videos, photos and first vinyl presses - irreplaceable losses! But the Mystic Revealers are a resilient bunch, and thus Jah Jah People can be seen as a fresh start. Make sure you become part of this new chapter by securing yourself a copy of the album!
Mystic Revealers - Jah Jah People
Release date: 10/10/2020
01. Are You Ready
02. Blue Nile
03. Business Man
04. Got To Get Away
05. Jah Jah People
06. Just Can't Deny It
07. Kiss For Me
08. Many Are Called
09. Remember The Days
10. Sitting On The Beach
11. There's A Place
12. You'll Never Know