May 13, 2011

The Jolly Boys | Great Expectation

ARTIST:  The Jolly Boys
TITLE:  Great Expectation
LABEL:  eOne Music 
REVIEW:  The Jolly Boys are perhaps the last surviving band from the original days of Jamaican mento.  For those who don’t know, mento is a uniquely Jamaican brand of popular music (closely related to Trinidadian calypso) that predates ska, rocksteady, reggae and dancehall.  It has a folky, jug band sound featuring banjo, acoustic guitar and rhumba box (a giant homemade mbira) and lyrics that, like calypso, lean to the bawdy side.  The Jolly Boys have stayed active through resort-hotel gigs in Jamaica; they made a comeback record in 1989, and now they’ve come back yet again.  The brilliant concept here is to have them cover decidedly non-mento, very recognizable material by folks like Iggy Pop, Amy Winehouse, Blondie and Johnny Cash.  This could be the recipe for high camp; instead Albert Minott’s remarkably weathered voice and the totally sympathetic arrangements and playing behind him actually give these songs back some of the edge that popularity has worn off of them.  Hats off for a great idea and superb execution of it by a band of consummate pros.  Fun for all.
REVIEWER:  Bill Lupoletti
TOP TRACKS:    1    3    6    10    11
ALSO RECOMMENDED:    4    5    7    13    14

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