News The Debut Release From The Archives, DC’s Seminal Roots Rockers Digs Deep into Reggae’s Past to Discover the Future

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Produced By Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton 

The Archives were created by Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton on a quest to explore the roots of reggae music. He asked keyboard ace Darryl “D-Trane” Burke to put together a cover band that would introduce club goers to the rock steady hits and obscurities of the
pre-reggae, pre-Marley era. When the group began writing original material, Burke contacted players he knew that could bring a
progressive vibe to the music. “Everyone in the band has recorded and toured internationally with acts like Eek-A-Mouse, Culture, Gregory Isaacs and The Abyssinians,” Burke explains. “We weave together the best of foundation roots, rock steady, early dub and dancehall influences with arrangements that use funky throwbacks such as jazz flute, melodica and organ to create a classic, yet fresh and conscious sound.”

The Archives feature vocalists Ras Puma, the charismatic singer on Thievery Corporation’s Culture of Fear, and Lenny Kurlou (S.T.O.R.M.). Mateo Monk (Sankofa Blackstar) plays guitar, flute and melodica; Burke (Moja Nya, Eek- A-Mouse, Gregory Isaacs) is on keyboards and drummer Leslie “Black Seed” James Jr. (Culture, Eek-A-Mouse) and bass player Justin “Relentless” Parrott (Claudius Linton) round out the lineup.

With Eric Hilton behind the board and Thievery Corporation’s head engineer, Chris “Stone” Garrett, adding his magic to the mix, the band laid down 13 tracks full of smoking soul and sufferation. Burke’s funky clavinet and James’s one drop drumming introduce Ghetto Gone Uptown. Puma and Kurlou alternate lead vocals and add smooth harmonies to the chorus of this lover’s rock jam. The vibe is mellow, but the lyrics are a serious examination of the country’s economic woes. Legendary dance hall DJ, producer and Thievery Corporation vocalist Sleepy Wonder sings lead on Music Is My Prayer, an ode to the healing powers of music. His scat-infused vocal on this sweet, laid-back track owes a debt to the work of Black Uhuru’s Michael Rose.

Desi Hyson, singer and main songwriter of Al Anderson’s Original Wailers takes lead vocals on Crime, a melodic romp that calls for the
legalization of ganja with a ska-like bounce in its rhythm. More To Life is a Black Uhuru style roots rocker with inventive drumming from James and a passionate vocal from Puma, calling for worldwide responsibility and compassion as an antidote for the planet’s anguish.
Subtle dub effects set off Monk’s wicked guitar solo.

The band shows off its diversity on the song Melodica Funk, a rock steady instrumental that blends melodica, Monk’s Latin-flavored jazz flute and Burke’s Jackie Mittoo-style organ solos and the track Why Can’t We Live Together, a funky disco/reggae cover of the Timmy Thomas standard. They also shine on Who’s Correct, a bubbly rock steady groove featuring Parrott’s militant Augustus Pablo-style bass line and a serious message of religious tolerance and a dub heavy take on the Clash/Mikey Dread tune One More Time.

Listen to the Archives “More to Life”:


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