Caribbean Pulse

Stand Up!

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Like their spiritual ancestors Third World, Caribbean Pulse mix up Jamaican and American sounds comfortably on Stand Up!. But whereas their antecedents made forays into disco, this band does so with R&B on slinky tracks like "I Like It," "Where Did the Love Go," and the title cut. But they're equally strong on more roots-oriented material, like the excellent "Victory" and "Dry Your Eyes," which features dancehall star Tony Rebel. Group leader William Smith keeps a conscious vibe going in the lyrics, while female singer LaNiece McKay offers an approach that wouldn't seem out of place in TLC. Overall it makes for an intriguing and inviting mix; the two genres work well together. It's only when they get softer, as with "Woman" and "Where Did the Love Go," that it falls apart; adult contemporary is simply too bland for their obvious musicality, and singer (also percussionist and songwriter) Ezzy Judah needs a harder rhythm to work off. With plenty of talented sidemen whose credits range from Tito Puente to Count Basie and Elvis Presley, they've got the cream of the crop on horns, and it shows, with some dazzling arrangements and short but stellar solos to add into the mix. But they'd do themselves a favor if they tried to focus on just the reggae and R&B instead of trying to be all things to all people.

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