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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

Joseph Israel

By Tom Orr
Published March 16, 2007

Gone Are The Days
Lions Of Israel

Decidedly not gone are the days of genuine roots reggae, at least not while Tulsa-born Joseph Israel has a say. Recorded mainly in Jamaica and featuring such noted players as guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith and drummer Squidley Cole, the disc takes a modern yet foundational approach much like that of guest vocalist Luciano or the Mystic Revealers. Israel’s lyrics are heavily Bible-based and delivered with a sung/chanted militancy framed by hard, melodic roots riddims. Consciousness is the order of the day, with cuts like “Mankind,” “King Of Kings” and the title track taking aim from a spiritual perspective that suffers no fools. At times the sound clashes with the rhetorical fire due to excessive smoothness, and the sentiments expressed in songs like “Jah Souljahs” can feel commonplace, but what there is to meditate upon and groove to is plentiful enough to recommend this disc as wholeheartedly as the music comes across.