I've never been particularly enthused with reggae save for the recent marvelous Putumayo release, African Reggae, and this CD pretty much reaffirms why the style passes me by. The Blue Island Tribe is a nicely agglomerated blend of genres (rock, jazz, island, etc.) inside the reggae motif but it cleaves too tightly to the formula…which is intrinsically stylistically stifling and much too static. One cut, though, March On, has some fusionistic tendencies with far more separated contrasts, including a righteous guitar solo from John Schminke, making it the definite high point of the 5-cut EP-CD (hence the druggily double-entendred title).
The group is a big hit on the college circuit, has released four previous discs, and gigs between 100 - 200 dates per year, so they obviously have a following. The horn player, Garrett Thielking, is a very welcome addition, fining out the repetitious bent of the release, but…plodding repetition is the main point of the genre, isn't it? Regardless, the mode can be handled more adeptly, though that wouldn't be very trad, so it could easily be said that Blue Island Tribe is to be lauded for their roots while somewhat expanding the motif. I wouldn't be the one rendering the accolades, but I'm sure someone would.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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