I am not one who bestows superlatives upon every decent, working reggae outfit that passes through these times. As a student of this reggae music, I am keenly aware of true greatness in the works of The Wailers, The Heptones, The Viceroys, The Abyssinians, and artists like Dennis Brown, Dobby Dobson, Gregory Isaacs, and others.
However, there is a new standard being set in reggae right now and we are very blessed to bear witness to it. In MIDNITE, I believe we are truly witnessing a resetting of the dial. The shear number of albums produced by MIDNITE is approaching the extraordinary: more than 50 long plays in 14 years. What is striking though is that, at least over the past several years, they have consistently released 2 LPs per year. And the material is not throw away by any means. In fact, the quality of the material gets stronger every year! As if that is not impressive enough, they tour in excess of 200 days per year. Their shows routinely run 3-4 hours. I simply cannot recall another band as prolific as this one. In my opinion, last year’s Children of Jah was dreads and shoulders above any other reggae release of 2012. It was not even close.
The band, formed in Washington, DC in the mid 1990s by brothers Ron and Vaughn Benjamin, play a style of music characterized as the “chant and call” style which gives their music a spiritually intense and an overtly Rastafari movement feel. Many find their style of music foreign and too far removed from the classic reggae sound. The lyrics are centrally focused on the plights of the oppressed, the inherent faults of the current political, economic and social settings on a global scale, and the redemption available to mankind through a life dedicated to Jah.
I could go on and on about this band’s greatness among the greats of the past 25 years. They have to be the greatest, most prolific reggae roots band in the business, right?
And listen to the new album, which is absolutely amazing. They seem to have re-invented themselves once again with 2013′s ‘Be Strong.’ Please note that this is a preview of the new album and not every song is included. You can buy the album at most online retailers.