Last year Spanish producer Roberto Sanchéz put out the acclaimed Earl Zero showcase album And God Said to Man. That was Earl Zero’s first album since 2002.
Now it seems Earl has got inspired and motivated to record more music.
His latest album – Marketplace – is a fusion of reggae, dub, funk, soul and some rock influences thrown into the mix. The result is an album full of surprises, twists and turns. It is also a joy to find some dub version of the tunes.
Marketplace was recorded in California and is produced by guitarist Siahvash Dowlatshai, who has previously worked with bands such as The Devastators and Lagos Roots Afrobeat Ensemble. The backing band on the album includes members of the legendary Roots Radics.
You will find plenty of organ, clavinet and piano as well as some heavy drum and bass grooves. Mystery Babylon Dub, the version of Blackmans Time, is dark and scary with plenty of echoes.
The intro to Do the Rub A Dub feels like the soundtrack to an Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis action flick. And its version Rub a Dub Instrumental adds some Mighty Two sound effects.
This album is different from And God Said to Man. That effort was a pure Channel One style roots album. Marketplace is rooted in reggae, but is still a much broader album. It takes a while before it gets under your skin, but once it has, you will love it.
In the past couple of months two well-known reggae veterans have released albums – Horace Andy with Serious Times and Clinton Fearon with Mi Deh Ya. But in the shadows one of the more unsung heroes of reggae music has released a showcase album with classic 70s roots.
In late March came the release of Earl Zero’s And God Said to Man album. A piece of heavenly roots music with a sound reminiscent of the mid and late 70s.
The album consists of twelve tunes – six vocal cuts and six dub versions – signed Spanish producer, label owner and musician Roberto Sánchez, who has previously worked with artists such as Rod Taylor, Kenny Knotts and Glen Washington.
Roberto Sánchez’ work aims to keep the style and sound of the 70s roots reggae music alive in terms of recording techniques, instruments used and artists to record. And he really succeeds with his vision. This album sounds like it could’ve been recorded in Jamaica 35 years ago.
And God Said to Man is as much deep conscious roots as the material Earl Zero recorded with, among others, Bertram Brown and Earl “Chinna” Smith in the 70s. Listen to You Are Gonna Fall with its intense drums or the mighty version of the classic None Shall Escape the Judgement. It’s close to Earl Zero’s own 70s version and the sound is more 70s steppers than flying cymbals and the version that made Johnny Clarke known.
The dub versions lie close to King Tubby and have few sound effects. Instead they’re stripped down and intimate.
Earl Zero and Roberto Sánchez began collaborating in 2007 with the tune Root of David. Hopefully they will continue to make music together. And God Said to Man shows that Earl Zero has a lot more to give and Roberto Sánchez has interesting ideas that I want to hear more about. Much more in fact.