CD Review: Just a Taste

Going on 2 years now! I've been waiting on an album release from Marlon Asher. From the first time I heard the big big song Ganja Farmer, I wanted to hear a full length studio album from Asher, and was definite sure that he wouldn't fade away and become a one hit wonder. That wasn't the case at all, as subsequently, the Trini native has proven to have some serious vibes and even having his first album at 31, he definitely has a long and healthy career ahead of him.

I got what I thought was just a sampler of this album having only 8 tracks altogether on the disc. But this is in fact hyped as Asher's 'Preview Album' for Caribbean Underground, the label who originally put out the first international pressing of Ganja Farmer. And with just 8 tracks, the first 3 of which all flow along the same Ganja Farmer riddim, it exists solely to give you a taste of whats to come, when hopefully he signs a nice deal with VP or Greensleeves and comes strong with the 15 track release.

Until then we have locked out! One of the very interesting song on the album is the combination with NYC dj Kapa Shanti, just the combination of styles and I hadnt ever even heard of Shanti before, the combo works however. As I mentioned, the first 3 tracks are on the same riddim. The latter 2 I Believe and I Love Yuh are both pretty decent songs, I Love You actually sounds like somewhat of a freestyle but it still works for me.

Of course it goes without saying that he best tune on Locked Out is definitely Ganja Farmer. The song has lost none of its luster for me, despite the fact that I routinely still listen to it at least once a day, just a wonderful song about the treatment of herb in Trinidad, built over one of the easiest and most laid back riddims and vibes that you'll ever here. Ganja Farmer works on the 'less is more' theory taking minimalist (yet wonderful) production a very very long way. And probably in a few years, we'll look back on Ganja Farmer and say it was somewhat pioneering in the reggae scene in Trinidad.

But that's not all! The 3 other tunes are all winners as well. Standing, the only other song here that I was actually familiar with, as it was a previous release, with the nice refrain announcing "This is Mr Marlon Asher!". Standing is a knowledge track, on a typically Asher-like level vibe. The title track is also very impressive as well. Locked Out is more of the same strong roots: "I just wanna be a child of Jah! Give thanx and praise forevah! I dont wanna be swimming in a lake of fyah. . . I dont wanna be locked out of Zion!" Making the very simple cover even more powerful as you literally see him separated from the Conquering Lion.

Love of Jah is the first 'official' single from the album, I assume, as its the only title here with a video supporting it very strong track as well. BUT! My second favorite track here is the aptly titled Wonderful, which is a. . . wonderful track! Wonderful is about as upbeat a track Asher has ever done that I've heard, but after awhile it just gets magical and he sticks to that bouncy riddim without bobbling at all, that track was made for this tune! Wonderful could be a big hit in JA, given the proper chance and promotion.

Interesting to mention that I always likened Asher's style to some of the up and coming dj talent here, however the artist that I'd say he most vocally resembles is without a doubt Jah Cure. No, he doesn't have that earth shattering vibe in his voice that you'll find Cure applying, but he has that somewhat raspy earthly creek to his voice which he uses to perfection (you can hear it especially in the title track, the first few lines of which sound like something directly from Jah Cure).

Overall, its likely that unless you go the ordering route that you wont be able to find much from Locked Out. As it is a preview album but also from an indie internation and young label, all signs make this one an order! But should you have the opportunity to get it definitely take it, Marlon Asher is one of many young talents to keep an eye on!

P.S. Loving what they are doing in TnT on the roots scene. Before, it seemed as if it was the Empress, Queen Omega trodding alone on the scene, but with talent like Asher, Propher Benjamin and the lethally wicked Khari Kill emerging, TnT looks to join St Croix as a haven for reggae outside of JA.

Bramoi for Trini Jungle Juice


Locked Out - Marlon Asher
Release Date: 2005

Track Listings
01. Ganja Farmer
02. I Love You
03. I Believe
04. Love of Jah
05. Locked Out
06. Standing
07. Israel - Featuring Kapa Shanti
08. Wonderful