Beenie Man

Many Moods of Moses [VP/Slammin' Vinyl]

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Having showcased his talents on Maestro, Beenie Man along with executive producer Patrick Roberts no longer felt the need to overwhelm audiences with a smorgasbord of sound, and thus Many Moods of Moses is a more coherent set than its predecessor. Of course, that doesn't mean Roberts doesn't mix up the sound, or that the DJ is reverting to one-topic toasting -- there's still plenty of diversity within. Again the album bundles up a few recent big hits, including the novelty-laden "Who Am I?," which drove its beamer straight into the U.K. Top Ten. The smoking "Oysters & Conch" was an even bigger hit back home, while the party piece "Foundation" shared credits with backing band the Taxi Gang. But what struck most fans were the cultural gems hidden among such heavy hitters. Beenie takes the "Long Road" to righteousness, calling down fire on the heathens along the way on this driving number. For when the gates of Zion close, the DJ has "Got to Be There," another strong number boasting particularly rich rhythms. But best of all is the inspiring "Steve Biko," which versions Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" to pay heartfelt homage to the martyred ANC hero. However, in the Rastafarian faith, prudery gets you no closer to Zion, which is a good thing, considering the sexual escapades Beenie gets up to elsewhere on the album.

"Oysters" may have been a smash, but it was also slack. And of course, it wouldn't be a Beenie album without the DJ fawning over the equally explicit tongue of Lady Saw, and the pair turn up the fire with "So Hot." Little Kirk helps sweeten up "Have You Ever," but even his lovely tones can't conceal the unmentionable acts that Beenie is getting up to behind him. So, most girls would be a bit wary when the DJ declares his love on "Sincerely," but with the backing's insistent nyahbinghi beats, the lovely choral harmonies, and Beenie's hypnotic performance, it's hard not to fall under his spell. Moving out of the dancehalls, the DJ and A.R.P. join forces on two tracks, a gorgeous cover of the soul hit "Heaven on Earth" and the emotive R&B-flavored "Miss You." But the most surprising pairing is on "Ain't Gonna Figure It Yet," a note-perfect country song, recorded in Nashville with country singer Bob Patin. And just in case anyone had forgotten what a tough, hard man Beenie really is, "Monster Look" is a potent reminder, while "Bad Man" makes a similar point to the hip-hop crowds. With a phenomenal album like this, it's difficult to believe that there were still haters out there, but Beenie puts them straight on the lethal "Bad Mind Is Active." From the dancehalls to the bedrooms, rudeness to reverence, Beenie is a man of many moods, and this album is filled with emotion, fabulous performances, and stellar musical accompaniments. Something for everyone, and more than enough classics to keep listeners dipping back into this record time and time again.

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