Tag Archives: Bob Marley music

Island Head’s “Punky Reggae Party” Still Raging

by Midnight Raver Blog

So I just finished listening to the new Island Head album called ‘Punky Reggae Party.’  They were recently interviewed on Dermot Hussey’s show and I had to give them a listen.  Many thanks to Billy Messinetti of Island Head for getting me a copy of the album “with the quickness.”

The album “Punky Reggae Party” by Island Head is composed primarily of Bob Marley compositions. It is fundamentally reggae but, it is all instrumental with a unique approach. The melodies are shared by trumpet, sax, guitar and keyboard.

The first thing that struck me when I looked at the track listing was that they included some heavy Bob Marley and the Wailers tunes.  You expect to see a “One Love” or “Three Little Birds” when a band seeks to cover Marley songs.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that they selected some of my favorite Marley tunes like “So Much Trouble In The World,” “Wake Up and Live,” “Punky Reggae Party,” and “Burnin’ and Lootin.’”  This should be interesting…Covering Marley is a daunting task.  No, let me rephrase that.  For seasoned musicians, covering Marley may not be that hard, however, pulling it off is a whole different story.  These songs carry a heavy vibe.  A vibe that each of us has carried with us for many years.  It is therefore very difficult to pull off playing these songs and having them sound, and feel, authentic.

The next thing that catches the eye is the names of the Island Head musicians.  The two guitarists are legendary reggae players – Andy Bassford (Toots & The Maytals) and Mikey ‘Mao’ Chung (Peter Tosh, Black Uhuru). Neil Jason (bass) was in John Lennon’s band and David Frank (keys) played on many hits such as “Sussudio” and “Higher Love”. Tim Cappello (sax) is famous from his years with Tina Turner and Don Harris (trumpet) played with the Allman Brothers, Tower of Power and Nile Rodgers & Chic.

According to Billy Messinetti percussionist “a passion for reggae and love for musicians interacting and jamming are why Island Head was created. The album was recorded live and allows the musicians a chance to step out, yet it is very listenable. It was mixed by Grammy award winning engineer/producer Dave O’Donnell at Germano Studios, NYC.”

I can tell you this.  These musicians can play.  They not only know the songs inside and out, they feel this music.  The authenticity of this album bled right through my Sennheisers, into my ears, and I felt these songs through and through.  This is no Delixx take on Marley.  It is different.  It has a jazzy vibe to it.  However, the strength of the songs, the talent of these musicians, and the organic connection they share with each other, keeps this album standing strong inna Babylon!

“So Much Trouble in the World” is currently in regular rotation on SiriusXM The Joint. Pat McKay, program director said;

“Island Head is an important project to reggae. It’s always great to have substantive, high art. This work contributes to reggae’s growth. Reminds others of what it really is and what is still possible. I feel so especially blessed to share this brilliant work with our audience.”

The entire album has been featured in Jamaica on the show ‘Riffin’ by our good friend and legendary radio host Dermot Hussey and on a Philadelphia radio show “Sounds of the Caribbean.”

link to this article on Midnight Ravers blog

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Punky Reggae Party album review

The reggae jamband Island Head, is getting a lot attention for their debut album “Punky Reggae Party”.  Bob Marley songs are re-worked into instrumentals that are destined to make these songs classics, again.

Track 1:  “I Shot The Sheriff” has a groove that crosses dancehall and rock with strong rock guitars and jazzy saxophone.  Sax player Tim Cappello, of Tina Turner fame, plays his butt off (plain and simple).  He has a fat tenor sound with tons of expression and excitement!

Track 2: “So Much Trouble In The World” takes the bass line from the original and pushes it further with a backbeat on the drums.  Bass player extraordinaire, Neil Jason pays tribute to the original bass player on the Survival album, Val Douglas.  Val, of the famous Skatalites, was scheduled to play on the album.  Due to his touring schedule with the Skatalites he could not make any of the band’s sessions.  When the track gets to Andy Bassford’s guitar solo the song is lifted to new heights.  Andy is well-known for playing with Toots & The Maytals for 23 years.

Track 3: The single, “Reggae Island” is a pop/top 40 sounding instrumental that just makes the listener feel good.  This is the only one not penned by Marley.

track 4: “Wake Up and Live”, also from Marley’s Survival album appears on the Island Head record.  This is where the band’s funk influence comes out.  Trumpet player Don Harris used to tour with Tower of Power and brought out some TOP in his arrangements.

Track 5: “Get Up Stand Up” sounds like Miles Davis got together with Bob Marley.  Harris’ muted trumpet is sultry, sexy and relaxing.  Miles would be proud because his influence is very apparent.

Track 6: The title track combines Jamaican Rocksteady with synth-dance music.  The synthesizer sounds played by one of the most famous synth players in the world, David Frank of The System.

Track 7: “Burnin’ and Lootin'” is the final track which is more traditional roots reggae.  The groove is deadly and “dirty funky”!  Andy Bassford does some finger-picking melodies in the second verse that are complex and interesting.  The track ends with Andy and Tim weaving in and out of each other’s licks.

Mickey “Mao” Chung, famous for his tenure with Peter Tosh of the Wailers plays incredible melodies throughout the entire album.  Mikey also played with Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards when Keith used to live in Jamaica.  Keith also mentions Mikey in his biography, “Life”.  Producer Billy Messinetti says; Mikey added a Jamaican authenticity to the album.  The combination of the guitar playing of Andy Bassford and Mikey ‘Mao’ Chung is one of the things that makes this album so interesting to listen to.  When Pat McKay, program director for SiriusXM’s reggae station The Joint, heard about this collaboration she said; I know both Andy and Mikey, they are geniuses!

You can find this very interesting musical hybrid here: Island Head on iTunes

Twitter page @Islandheadband is getting followers from all over the world.