The Meditations

Return of the Meditations

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Of course the Meditations never really went away, although Ansel Cridland remained behind in Jamaica when Winston Wright and Danny Clarke relocated to the States. The latter pair continued touring, and in 1988 released the magnificent For the Good of Man album. Four years on and the trio members have reunited, celebrating with Return of the Meditations. With the rhythms laid down by Sly & Robbie and Steely & Clevie, this is a much tougher-sounding set than its predecessor. A pair of sweet rocksteady classics -- the Paragons' "Talking Love" and the Cables' "What Kind of World," are wed to stinging dancehall beats, while Curtis Mayfield's funky "Choice of Color" is stripped back to stiff beats, fast pulsing bass, and a sparse keyboard line that's kept well in the background. Even Cridland's own "Doubtful Love," with its sweet melody strongly delivered by the singer and backed by ethereal harmonies, is virtually run down by the military tattoo of beats storming behind them. However, the sharp dancehall arrangements are particularly effective on the group's own cultural numbers, notably the smoldering "Jailhouse" and the anthemic "Tan Deh." Elsewhere, the booming sound system-styled beats are blended with a rootsier atmosphere, as on the tough "Scarface," the more rockers-styled "False Doctrine," and the roots reggae sway of "Youth and Youth." The arrangements may be a little forceful for some of the group's older roots fans, but the Meditations' pens remain sharp, their melodies irresistible, and their vocal performances inspired. Return finds the newly re-formed trio still on the cutting edge of the reggae scene.

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