The Wailing Souls

All Over the World

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Having signed to the Columbia subsidiary Chaos, the Wailing Souls were now ready to conquer America, and launch themselves all over the world. However, the title track, which opens the album, was guaranteed to send their old roots fans running for cover. A funky disco monster, it's hard to believe this is the same group that gave us "Bredda Gravilicious" and "Lawless Society" all those years ago. But just to drive home the changes, two tracks later the Souls throw themselves into the housey R&B of "If I Were You." All Over the World is as stunning as it is shocking, incorporating virtually every element of the current music scene, from jungle beats to urban R&B gloss, from rappers ("Pappa Juggy" and U-Roy) to backing vocalists parading as a church choir. The record's rhythms are absolutely astounding, a seething cross between the new hip jungle style and the dancehall's beloved military tattoo. The diverse sounds collide head on, as on "You Ain't Leaving," where the militaristic beats plow into the steel drums, and the ballad the Souls are crooning crash into the DJs' raps. Elsewhere, hardcore hip-hop smacks into R&B, as the amazing rhythms pummel everything in their path; Latino melodies slink in, too, but all that's nothing compared with the covers. The startling version of the Rolling Stones' "Sweet Black Angel" is done up Western style, but is corralled by a Gospel choir, and serenaded round the campfire by an incredibly smoky sax. Less successful, but equally unexpected, is the cover of a McGarrigle Sisters song; a love ballad gone jungle, but with elements of its folky origins still simmering in the brew. However, there are a few more island-orientated tracks, a purer dancehall number, the deep roots of "Shark Attack," and the blast from the past "Picky Picky Head," which blends early reggae, steel drums, digitized beats, and a roots segment into a frothy, infectious confection. A truly awesome album, that, even after multiple plays, continues to astound.

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