By Gerry McMahon
Having scaled the prickly peaks of academia, Harrison Stafford can also take pride in attaining headline status on the live reggae circuit. Given the competitive nature of both pursuits, neither achievement should be underrated. And so, Stafford now returns with his ‘Professor Crew’ to release ‘One Dance’, a 12 track compilation of righteous roots reggae. This is Stafford’s third solo release and – unlike his voluminous output with his band Groundation – it goes easy on the jazz.
The opening track ‘Jah Shine’ cuts to the chase with a jaunty assault on the abusers of religion for monetary purposes. Thereafter, ‘Hush’ reveals the closer proximity of Stafford’s voice to that of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s than Gregory Isaacs’ – with an added bonus that it’s possible to decipher his lyrics on first hearing.
Next up is the strident ‘Morality’, a track that’s ably abetted with some choice support vocals, before the title track – ‘One Dance’ – offers some more food for thought arising from the death toll of war.
The next track from Stafford the messenger is the lively ‘The Music’ track, delivered in a catchy up beat mento-type tempo, with a touch of dancehall riding shotgun.
Then the ‘Young Dread’ track kicks in – drawing on a 1964 speech from Marios Savio, a ‘free speech’ political activist – to warn listeners of the limitations of politicians and gossip. This is succeeded with ‘California’, as Harrison really reveals his conviction, taking some delight in paying homage to his home in ‘California’.
The pacey ‘Giddeon’ and aspirational ‘Balance’ close this competent album’s vocal output before ‘Dub Shine’, ‘One Dub’ and ‘Dubbeon’ send the listeners into another orbit.
Indeed, like its 2015 predecessor ‘Natty Will Fly Again’ (with Ashanti Roy, Pablo Moses and Winston Jarrett), this album’s enduring legacy for many may prove to be the dub dimension. The 3 dubs herein bounce off the walls, delivering the listener to a different dimension, as Stafford’s voice echoes the message. Credit also to Stafford’s success in recruiting such luminaries as Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace, Flabba Holt, Lloyd ‘Obeah’ Brown and Dalton Browne. Like many of his previous coalitions, the benefit thereof is there for all to hear. Bring on the summer tour in support of this laudable release.
Harrison Stafford & The Professor Crew – One Dance
DIGITAL RELEASE [Soulbeats Records]
Release date: 5/13/2016
01. Jah Shine
04. One Dance
05. The Music
06. Young Dread
10. Dub Shine
11. One Dub