Mind & Body Sold

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Lynden "Odel" Johnson is the drummer for both the Fully Fullwood Band and Messenjah; stepping out for the first time as a solo artist with Mind & Body Sold, he shows himself to be an impressive talent as a singer and songwriter as well as behind the drums. He seems to be taking quite a few cues from South African reggae superstar Lucky Dube -- from the first sung phrase on "Fire in the Hole," Dube's influence is clear, and it only becomes clearer when the lush female backing vocalists chime in on "Lazarus" and "Neva Lonely." But Johnson has ideas of his own, which he expresses with stylistic forays into funk (on the impressive title track) and a sort of Cuban-calypso fusion (on the very fine "Mantos Santos"). He also comes up with a fairly interesting rewrite of Bob Marley's "Crazy Baldheads," here titled "Crazy Bumpheads." The album's only true misstep is its closing number, a "ballad" arrangement of "Signs" that fails to improve in any way on the original version that features earlier in the program. Highly recommended overall.

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