Although Israel Vibration have regularly covered societal issues in the past, for On the Rock, they take a step back, have a good look around, and set their pens to paper, resulting in their most cultural album to date. With each of the trio contributing songs, the individual perspectives makes for interesting listening, even as they address the same subjects. The state and fate of youth is of particularly concern, and a clutch of songs are aimed in young people's direction. Lascelle "Wiss" Bulgin sets the stage with "Struggling Youth," a song that brilliantly sums up too many young people's lives, in words filled with empathy. Albert "Apple" Craig's slinky "Rudeboy Shufflin'" is less forgiving, berating the rudies for their slackness, and taking well deserved shots at MTV for promoting the gangsta lifestyle. Cecil "Skelly" Spence offers up "Brother's Keeper," a plea to teach children unity, while Bulgin provides more concrete solutions on "Find Something to Do," although his "Borderline" suggests the world is so corrupt only Jah can overcome its rampant oppression and evil. From egregious consulate men to the title track's livication to their friends in the pen, the Vibes tackle issues with clarity and insight. But its not all heavy hitters; Albert Craig is in love, burning with a desire that reaches the height of sensuality on "Sugar Me." Perhaps his mooning about inspired Spence's tribute to the Beatles"' "Love Is All You Need," which nicely bookends "Rebel for Real," his homage to Bob Marley. "So brutalize I with music...chastise I with music, if it's a cry from the heart," he declares on the latter track. And that line perfectly sums up this album. As always, the group are beautifully backed by the Roots Radics. Music with soul, thought provoking and totally satisfying.
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AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene