REVIEW: Derrick Lara – Solid

By Liam Monaghan

From Kingston to the world, Derrick Lara of the Tamlins brings us a 15 track album of new music supported by the Stamina All Stars. From being a boy in the church choir, Lara grew to love R&B and infused the style of the genre into his vocal performances. Lara was a dab hand with a pair of sticks and some drums and performed for the likes of the Seventh Extension Band until 1972 where he lay some vocals for Joe Gibbs. Lara was adopted by the Tamlins to work on some work with Sly & Robbie and would later go on to conduct backing vocals for the likes of Peter Tosh, Beres Hammond, Anthony B, Everton Blender plus many more. The ‘Come On Over’ singer had success with ‘Gun Man’ & ‘Me No have It’ and has released albums in the past which will be interesting how this album differs many years on.

Wicked bassline on this track, this track is quite an emotional record when you listen to the record. The riddim is built of a weighty walking bassline accompanied by huge harmonies, which causes the goose bumps on this record. Lara discuses “going back to Africa as he cant take it anymore, too much killing in Babylon” An interesting track

Enjoy Your Life
Uplifting riddim, the album started quite serious but this riddim is lighter and the mission statement in this record is to simply just enjoy your life and be thankful for the things you own and existing. Definitely a feel good track , You don’t have to be rich to enjoy your life!

Feeling The Love
Lovey Dovey feelings in this record. Lara explains how he cant get the persona out of his mind, thinks about her driving around and on the way to work. A nice record, I think laras voice is a perfect tone to deliver a love song. The riddim is a bubbly accompanied by those wicked harmonies.

I Wish
Lots of wishing here from Lara, the song in my interpretation is a list of wishes and questions that Lara would like answering. Some wicked high notes in this, plenty of passion from Derrick and this is clear in his lyrics. “Politics is just a dirty game” is a theme, however as we all know, without politics or lawmakers we’d all implode. Nice song overall.

Jah Nuh Dead
A Jah appreciation track here, mentions of Jah being in spirit and Jah is there for you and me. I really like the riddim behind this track, its sulky and has an air about it. Not really much going on with this track, it’s a heavily religious with references to prophets but nonetheless still a nice song.

Love From The Heart
Back to what I personally think Derrick does best, love tracks. Lara’s voice can stretch so high! Id love to hear him cover Police & Thieves. The riddim is again uplifting and bubbly and I feel this would be the track on a live performance that would shine though.

Never Fail
Another religious Jah song here, a rootsy riddim. Its nice and a simple track but I really would like to see Lara mix up the album a little. Some different style of riddim for example maybe try some upbeat ska or with his huge voice try some weighty dub or even include some dub versions of his tracks.

One God
A positive track with One God. I think the message of this track is pretty much explained in the title of the track. ‘One in Jah Spirit One in Jah Blood One God’ rings throughout the record whilst the Stamina Allstars perform a foundation of a roots reggae riddim.

Plant It Up
I like this track. Weighty and Lara’s voice is deep and there’s that mood I was talking about earlier. Weed appreciation is the theme in this track, although about weed, the track style I think suits Lara’s voice. Interestingly in a fair few Reggae tracks artists always use Lawyers and Doctors as examples of people who smoke also, why not teachers or police themselves? Just a thought.

Reggae Ska
I mentioned earlier about stepping up the tempo and changing the album up a little, this is about as Ska as it will get with Reggae Ska. Love the harmonies in this track and the upbeat riddim is an updated Skatalites sounding concoction. “Dance to the Reggae Ska, move to the Reggae Ska” with this riddim its hard not to two step or nod your head at least! Probably my favourite off the album.

Overall an interesting Album, I didn’t find much depth in this album having listened to 10 tracks. There’s a couple more tracks left on the album but ill let you judge them yourself. I feel there’s some wasted recording space on this album as Derrick Lara has a great voice, it can stretch as high as a kite but also really hit home the lower deep tones and some dub, Ska, Rock steady would have kept the album fresh. I appreciate Derrick in the past saying “the Tamlins are known for their “lover’s rock” and “rhythm and blues” reggae renditions. I embraced the teachings of Rastafari and made it my “Way of Life”. I also understand going solo is giving Derrick a chance to make the music he wants to make and discuss matters different to the Tamlins. Im not sure people listen to albums in full as much as people did some years ago but that’s my conclusive feeling on the album. Great voice, great band but mix it up and push boundaries.

1 Never Fail I
2 I Wish
3 Plant It Up
4 Struggle
5 ReggaeSka
6 One God
7 Where There’s a Will (feat. Congo Man)
8 Dem a Gwan
9 Love from the Heart
10 Going Back to Africa
11 Feelings of Love
12 Too Ungrateful
13 Jah Nuh Dead
14 Solid
15 Enjoy Your Life

Born in Kingston, Jamaica (1958), as a youth Derrick Lara loved to emulate American R&B singers of the early 70s. He nurtured his vocal style in the local church choir, performing alongside his sister, Jennifer Lara. Derrick started performing as a vocalist professionally alongside Errol Lee in the Bare Essentials Band. Later on he performed as a drummer in the Seventh Extension Band, playing on Jamaica’s north coast. Lara focused on drumming for a while until an impromptu appearance as a vocalist prompted him to focus again on vocals.

By 1972 Lara’s reputation as a singer reached Kingston where he was invited to record with Joe Gibbs. Gibbs’ production of ‘What We Need’ introduced Lara’s distinct falsetto to Jamaican ears. Further sessions with Gibbs led to Lara’s debut album and an appearance on the discomix, ‘Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough’ featuring DJ Trinity
In 1983, the vocal group the Tamlins engaged Lara to perform with them, initially on recording sessions with Sly and Robbie. Through the years Lara has remained with the Tamlins, although all the members of the Tamlins also pursue solo careers. In 1994, the Tamlins re-recorded their classic, ‘Baltimore’, with Richard ‘Bello’ Bell, who also enrolled Lara to join the Star Trail Posse. The Star Trail Posse provided backing vocals to performers such as Beres Hammond, Everton Blender and Anthony B. Lara released a series of hit singles including ‘Gun Man’, ‘Me No Have It’ and ‘Man Fe Know’ for Bell, while with Tappa Zukie he released, ‘Love Is Calling’ and for K.C. White he updated Horace Andy’s ‘Money Money’ rhythm for the classic, ‘Bad Vibes’. Lara also released the album “Motherless Child” drawing from his formative years and dedicated the title track to his mother, who had died in childbirth. “Motherless Child” established Lara as a seriously talented artist. In 1999, Lara released ‘All About Life’ in collaboration with Sly and Robbie, Mafia and Fluxy, Danny Browne, Firehouse Crew and Culture Lee. In the early 2000’s Lara performed with the Tamlins and toured with Rita Marley singing background vocals. Derrick still performs with the Tamlins, but he has revived his solo career with the release of Solid, a brand new album with the Stamina All Stars, produced by Bruce Benjamin at Actual Music Productions label out of Santa Cruz, CA

1 Comments on this post

  1. Listen a couple more times. Seems like you wrote a thing after hearing each song once as the CD was playing while in a bad mood.
    Your review was as you described the album. Some wasted space. Push the listening boundaries more on a Spiritual level. Who feels it.

    Dubgroove / Reply

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