Gowanus Reggae and Ska Society: G.R.A.S.S. On Fire (2011)
G.R.A.S.S. altered the sequence of the songs from the original album to make it more a reflection of their work as a group. They also merged "Kinky Reggae" and "Midnight Ravers" to come up with "Kinky Midnight," and added "High Tide, Low Tide" which did not make it onto the Marley release.
The band makes it quite apparent, from the opening track "Concrete Jungle," that the musical structure is of its own invention. The underlying reggae beat drives the music but the soloists bring their own sense of development to the table. It is fathomed in the arms of bop, free charging jazz harmonies, rock improvisation and swing, to make the whole a tantalizing sweep of giddy delight.
Each member of the group was given a copy of the lyricsoften politically charged, always potentbefore the recording began. In keeping with the words' sentiment, the group's crafting of the songs become powerful statements. "Slave Driver" has a steely central core, shaped by the saxophones before guitarist David Bailis drives it deeper and Shaw adds to the impetus. But the groove has a constant forward momentum, with trombonist Mark Miller shaping the final visage with his keyboards.
"Stir It Up" is driven by bassist J. A. Granelli, with harmonicist David Barnes adding to the sensual undertone. The effect is stunning, as the band grooves to the pulse, adding layer-upon-layer of rich texture and exceptional harmonies.
The band is no hurry to kick into the beat on "Mo More Trouble," but once it does, the pulse is kept tight, with lean permutations. But it is when guitarist Brad Shepik takes off from the melody, in a blaze of molten rock progressions, that the whole explodes, sending the tune into the stratosphere. It's the perfect closer for a smoking record.
Track Listing: Concrete Jungle; Baby We've Got a Date; Slave Driver; 400 Years; Kinky Midnight; Stir It Up; Stop That Train; High Tide; No More Trouble.
Personnel: J. A. Granelli: bass; Nate Shaw: keyboards; Nick Balaban: keyboards; Russ Meisner: drums; David Bailis: guitar; Brad Shepik: guitar; Mark Miller: trombone; Paul Carlon: tenor sax; Ohad Talmor: tenor sax; Michael Blake: tenor sax; David Barnes: harmonica.
Record Label: Mighty Gowanus Records