Irie Time

It's About Time

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One reggae term that was used a lot in the '70s and '80s but isn't heard as much in the 21st century is lovers rock, which describes reggae recordings that have a romantic focus instead of focusing on sociopolitical matters, the Rastafarian faith, or ganja. Gregory Isaacs' early-'80s smash "Night Nurse" was the quintessential lovers rock single; other prime examples of lovers rock include Bob Marley's "Waiting in Vain" and Jimmy Riley's remake of Hall & Oates' "Every Time You Go Away." While the term lovers rock has a '70s/'80s connotation, the basic idea remains many years later -- and that idea is alive and well on It's About Time. This 2006 release recalls a pre-dancehall era in reggae but does so without a heavy sociopolitical focus; the lyrics are romantic in their outlook, bringing to mind the types of songs that Steel Pulse and Third World provided when they weren't addressing social and political concerns. Of course, Steel Pulse and Third World were known for a crossover sound; they were not reggae purists, and neither are the members of Irie Time. This Houston, TX-based outfit combines reggae with elements of pop, jazz, funk, and calypso; there is plenty of urban contemporary gloss on infectious tracks like "You Changed My Life" and "On the Right Track," and lead singer Scottie McDonald even sounds a bit like Simply Red's Mick Hucknall. Saying that Irie Time recall a time before dancehall's popularity exploded is not to say that they are unaffected by dancehall's predecessor dubwise; in fact, every one of the songs on this album is heard in a both a full vocal version and a dub version. Again, It's About Time was not recorded with reggae purists in mind, but those who fancy a crossover approach to pre-dancehall reggae will find a lot to like about this 47-minute disc.

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