Israel Vibration

The Same Song

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One of the most exciting debuts of the roots era, Same Song boasted the cream of Jamaican musicianship backing the vocal trio, including Sly & Robbie, Augustus Pablo, Mikey Chung, and Ansel Collins. Producer Tommy Cowan took special care with this record and insured that the all-star cast never overwhelmed the vocalists. This was a real danger, as Israel Vibrations were far from the most powerful of singers. Other vocal groups of the day could easily hold their own in the midst of the deepest roots and dub, but the Vibes needed sympathetic arrangements to best showcase their unique sound. In fact, it was their very vocal vulnerability that was the trio's appeal. The almost reedy quality of the Vibes' singing, the feeling that they were struggling just to gather the strength to even reach this paltry level of vocal thrust, was part of the charm. The group's actual physical disabilities just made their stylings all the more poignant. It was Same Song's Rastafarian themes and the trio's obvious religious devotion which made this such a cultural classic, even if the album doesn't have that almost melancholy quality of the Abyssinians, nor the righteousness and fire of Burning Spear or Black Uhuru. Instead, the Vibes brought an almost child-like quality to roots, a naïveté hither unknown in what was otherwise a streetwise genre. The very simplicity and straightforwardness of the lyrics reinforces this feeling. The Vibes message of "Why Worry" sums up their personal philosophy of finding answers, hope, and salvation through prayer. The title track, a real charmer and hit to boot, insists that "we're all going to sing the same song," but their fervid delivery gives even this seeming platitude real power. Even when presented with the brutality of life, as on "Licks and Kicks," the album's only true political song, the trio still attribute the violence that inspired the song to Jah's will. One comes away from the album convinced that the trio have entrusted themselves to Jah, and, with that, all of life's complexities have fallen away. The meek shall inherit the earth, the Bible states, but as the Vibes prove, the meek aren't necessarily voiceless victims, and even the meekest amongst them can, in the right setting, be the loudest. Same Song is a shout of belief, so heartfelt, as to quiet all else around it.

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