Gilzene ##field3 The Blue Light Mento Band / Sweet Sweet Jamaica
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Gilzene ##field3 The Blue Light Mento Band Gilzene ##field3 The Blue Light Mento Band
Sweet Sweet Jamaica (World Village (wv))

Debut from a group from remote areas of Jamaica has a sound that retains the unpolished quality of mento at its most genuine In the best mento tradition, the fifteen songs cover a range of topics, featuring folk favourites, suggestive ditties and songs examining the finer points of human relationships. Audiences may already be familiar with songs such as ‘Wings Of A Dove,’ once adapted in ska by Bob Marley, ‘Brown Girl In The Ring,’ a children’s ring game song adapted in disco by Boney M, ‘Dream Of Me,’ a big hit for Mac and Katie Kissoon in the mid-1970s, and the oft-versioned ‘Sly Mongoose,’ which references radical religious leader Alexander Bedward. Similarly, the group tackles mento classics such as the suggestive ‘Hold Him Joe,’ ‘Goosey’ (aka ‘Gungu Walk’) and ‘Water Your Garden’ with considerable aplomb, and there are also fine renditions of the ring game songs ‘Hill And Gully Rider’ and ‘Emmanuel Road,’ joined as a mini medley, as well as the heartbroken ‘Come Back Liza.’ ‘Jammin Tonight,’ which exhorts the listeners to join in the mento party, adapts a traditional number known as ‘You Safe,’ while in contrast, ‘10,000 Years’ adapts a bible hymn within the language and symbolism of the Rastafari faith. The originals are equally captivating: the ballad ‘Crying’ relates a riverside tale of seeking to give comfort in times of hardship and distress, while ‘Honey And Honeycomb’ has Lanford pledging eternal devotion to his sweetheart; ‘Sweet Sweet Jamaica’ naturally expresses the enduring appeal of the island for visitors. Perhaps most notable of all, the band’s adaptation of Toots and the Maytals’ much loved ‘Sweet And Dandy’ recasts the reggae hit as a mento country stomp, with none other than Toots himself contributing the vibrant harmonica.

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