Print this Page

World Music CD Reviews North American

Rob Symmeon

By Jeff Tamarkin
Published April 27, 2007

The Chosen One

A decade into his recording career, Brooklyn Rasta Rob Symmeon, who calls himself “The Spark Igniter,” remains loyal to the classic horn-driven, vocal harmony-sweetened, bass and drums-anchored sound of reggae’s early post-ska period—and to Jah Rastafari, whose presence permeates virtually all of Symmeon’s upbeat anthems. Dancehallers need not apply—Symmeon is all about reggae as King Selassie I intended.He calls upon an army of master reggae musicians to aid in the realization of his classicist vision and, to keep it from sounding too retro, employs three resourceful producers, among them Noel Alphonso, whose late father, Skatalites saxist Roland, was a bona fide Jamaican legend. Naturally the specter of Marley hovers, not so much in the vocal quality—Symmeon’s somewhat nasal tone doesn’t have Bob’s reach or richness—but in the positive-message words that Symmeon brings to compositions like “Stumblin’ Block,” the acoustic “Good Over Evil” and the exemplary title track.